The Guardian: LONDON, England, By Caroline Davies – The Queen has travelled to her Norfolk estate where she will celebrate her 96th birthday in low-key fashion at the farmhouse where the Duke of Edinburgh spent much of his retirement.
The monarch flew from Windsor Castle to her Sandringham estate where she is likely to spend several days at Wood Farm, the home Prince Philip moved to after his retirement in August 2017. She visited him frequently until the COVID pandemic necessitated his moving to shield with her at Windsor Castle.
Buckingham Palace is not planning any kind of public engagement to mark her birthday on Thursday, though there will be tributes from family members and organisations she is involved with.
A new photograph was issued to mark the occasion. The portrait, released by the Royal Windsor Horse Show, shows her holding the reins of two white ponies, against a magnolia tree backdrop and was taken last month by Henry Dallal in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The Queen’s ponies, Bybeck Nightingale and Bybeck Katie, will feature in A Gallop through History, the horse show’s Platinum Jubilee equestrian display showcasing horses from across the globe. The show will run from May 12 -15.
It is expected the Queen will be visited by family and friends over the next few days during her short holiday. She has no major confirmed engagements in her diary. Recent mobility issues have led her to cancel a string of engagements and it is not yet known which events planned for her platinum jubilee in June she will attend.
Wood Farm, which is a modest residence by royal standards, has a more informal air than nearby Sandringham House. Philip, who died in April 2021 at the age of 99, loved the house, especially the fact that “the sea was so close”, the Queen has said.
She commented on the property when she hosted a rare public event at Sandringham on February 5. Its retired housekeeper Teresa Thompson, 70, said at the time: “All the royal family love Wood Farm because it’s out of the way, it’s small, it’s intimate. You haven’t got lots of officials and household, it’s just close staff.”
The Queen usually spends Christmas on the Norfolk estate, only departing after the anniversary of the death of her father, George VI, on February 6. The fact that it is also where Philip chose to retire after stepping down from public life can only strengthen her emotional ties to Sandringham.
Top Feature Photo: Issued to mark the occasion shows the Queen with her ponies Bybeck Nightingale (left) and Bybeck Katie (right) – Royal Windsor Horse Show/PA