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The Queen pens touching letter to royal fan after first Christmas without Prince Philip

The monarch stayed at Windsor Castle during the holidays

The Queen has been sending touching letters to royal fans who sent Christmas cards to her, as she marked her first festive period without her beloved late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The monarch, 95, spent the holidays at Windsor Castle for the second year running, and was joined by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The letter, which was penned on headed notepaper from Windsor Castle, was shared by @theroyalmailbox on Instagram.

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It read: "The Queen wishes me to thank you for the message you sent for Christmas and the New Year, which is greatly appreciated.

"Her Majesty has been most grateful for the particular kindness and support shown to her over the past year and I am to thank you very much for your thoughtfulness in writing at this time."

The message was signed by one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, Annabel Whitehead.

Prince Philip passed away at the age of 99 in April 2021, with his funeral held at St George's Chapel in Windsor.

The couple were married for over 73 years and shared four children, as well as eight grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. The Queen has since welcomed two more great-grandchildren since the Duke's death – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's second child, Lilibet, in June 2021 and Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi's daughter, Sienna, last September.

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The monarch travelled to her Sandringham estate in Norfolk earlier this month, as she prepares to mark the 70th year of her reign on Sunday 6 February.

It's also a poignant day for Her Majesty, as it marks the anniversary of her father King George VI's death.

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Elizabeth last saw her father King George VI on 31 January 1952

On Monday, exactly 70 years ago, Princess Elizabeth saw her father for the very last time before he passed away, as she and Prince Philip set off for a tour of the Commonwealth.

The new Queen learned of her father's death when she was in Kenya and she and Philip immediately returned home to the UK, cancelling further stops in Australia and New Zealand.

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