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Why today is a bittersweet day for the Queen as she marks new milestone

The 93-year-old monarch is expected to spend the day in private

Danielle Stacey

The Queen is expected to return to London later this week following her winter break in Sandringham. The date – 6 February – has always been a bittersweet day for the monarch, as it marks the anniversary of her father King George VI's death and the day she became Queen. Today marks the 68th year of her reign and the 93-year-old is expected to spend the day in private, after carrying out engagements earlier this week.

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The Queen is greeted by Winston Churchill upon her return to London in 1952

King George VI died in his sleep at Sandringham House on 6 February 1952, after suffering from a number of health problems. His eldest daughter Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip were on tour in Kenya when the news broke and the pair swiftly returned to London. The royal couple were greeted by then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill as they disembarked from the plane, both wearing black as a mark of respect. Elizabeth and Philip had only been married for over four years, and the Princess was just 25 when she ascended the throne.

The King was buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on 15 February 1952. The Queen's coronation took place the following year on 2 June 1953. Her Majesty surpassed the reign of her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria in 2015 to become the longest-reigning British monarch. She was also the first to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee in 2017, commemorating her 65 years on the throne.

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The Queen and Prince Philip on the day of her coronation in 1953

For her first official engagements of the year, the Queen visited RAF Marham on Monday, in her role as Honorary Air Commodore and she opened the new Wolferton Pumping Station in Sandringham on Wednesday – 72 years after her father unveiled the original. One of her first engagements in London after her return this month will be to Camden, according to the royal diary.

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