For the past 12 weeks, they have enjoyed lunch together every day, spending more time in each other's company than they have for months. And as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh sit down to eat on Wednesday 10 June, they will quietly mark another personal milestone as Prince Philip enters his 100th year. There will be no big gathering of family and friends, but the husband and wife of more than 72 years will delight in speaking to their loved ones via the video calls that they, like so many of us, now rely on.
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"Given the panorama of experience they share, their interest in their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I'm sure talking to them on the phone on video calls is a pleasure they share," Robert Lacey, author of the biographies Monarch and Majesty, tells HELLO!. "The Duke has always been the gadget man and he must revel in it in that sense."
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And the understated marking of his 99th birthday will not disappoint Prince Philip. As one insider put it, the royals "don't really celebrate birthdays without a nought". "He is suspicious of fuss, but I think there'll be a quiet glow of pride there and quite justified," adds Robert. "That's always been his style. Lowkey, but tremendously solid support."
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This week Her Majesty will also mark her official birthday by attending a small military ceremony at Windsor – her first appearance in public since 9 March, when she attended the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey. Members of the Welsh Guards are due to perform a royal salute in the castle's quadrangle on Saturday 13 June, when the traditional public celebration, Trooping the Colour, had been due to take place before it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The couple have been married for 72 years
Since his retirement in 2017, the Duke has spent much of his time at Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. But the outbreak of Covid-19 reunited the royal couple. "When it came to the prospect [of isolating] he didn't want to stay on at Sandringham on his own," says Robert. "As each of them looked at the challenge ahead, they wanted to be together." He adds: "He will be supporting her morally in the way that he always has. She will value that companionship much more than if he were at the other end of a telephone."
Pick up this week's issue of HELLO! magazine out now for the full report.