Queen Elizabeth II, is to make a permanent move to Windsor Castle after not staying at Buckingham Palace for two years.
The 95-year-old monarch has been “working from home” at the Berkshire castle since the pandemic began.
She is now set to stay there permanently as renovations at Buckingham Palace continue for another five years, the Sunday Times reported.
The move came as the Queen recovers from Covid-19 and another undisclosed health issue that saw her spend a night in hospital in October and then several weeks resting on doctors’ advice.
At an official engagement in February, she was pictured leaning on a walking stick and told visitors: “As you can see, I can’t move.”
Buckingham Palace will remain the central headquarters of the monarchy, though the Queen is now expected to carry out her engagements both virtually and in person from Windsor, the Telegraph understands, as well as going to events outside the castle.
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In London, she is expected to attend the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 14 and a service of thanksgiving for Prince Philip at the abbey on March 29.
She is also expected to take on a visible role at June’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The Queen and Royal family are expected to appear on the balcony on June 2 for her official birthday parade.
The festivities – for which the UK has been given a four-day bank holiday weekend – will also include Trooping the Colour and a music festival, the Platinum Party at the Palace, on Saturday, June 4.
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The move marks the end of an era, as the Queen’s royal standard – a signal to the world that she is at home in Buckingham Palace – will now rarely be seen. In her absence, the Union flag flies above the building instead.
Her annual calendar usually includes seasonal moves around the UK, but in recent years these have been disrupted by the pandemic.
She is expected to resume them this year, spending the summer at Balmoral in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and going to Sandringham in Norfolk from December until mid-February.
The plan to move away from London forms part of a long-standing shift, with Windsor Castle and Balmoral always expected to become more important as the monarch entered her 10th decade, Telegraph reports.
While Buckingham Palace contains royal apartments, it is also a government building and may offer less home comforts than the Queen’s other residences. This is particularly the case as it undergoes a long-awaited £369 million overhaul of its electrics and plumbing, last replaced in the 1950s. The revamp began in April 2017.
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Analysis of the Queen’s diary in 2015 by The Telegraph showed that she had already dramatically reduced the amount of time she spent at Buckingham Palace. Staff also concentrated her work into fewer days to help conserve her energy.
The monarch spent 109 nights there in 2011, dropping to 88 nights in 2015. Nights at Windsor Castle rose from 119 to 159 in the same period.
A Royal source said at the time: “There are a lot of events planned to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016 so it will be a big year, but after that we will see a slight gear change to make things more manageable with a bigger role for other members of the Royal family.”
The Balmoral estate in Scotland – long known to be a favourite residence – was also expected to become more important, as it offers her more privacy, peace and space for relaxation than her other homes.