Prince Philip, who died in April 2021 at age 99, spent much of his time at the five-bedroom Wood Farm home on the Sandringham estate will mark her 96th birthday in a place full of reminders of her late husband Prince Philip.
On Wednesday, the monarch traveled from Windsor Castle to her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, about 110 miles north of London, ahead of her birthday on Thursday, Buckingham Palace confirmed. The palace told PEOPLE that the Queen will be spending her birthday privately. Prince Philip, who died in April 2021 at age 99, spent much of his time at the cozy five-bedroom Wood Farm home on the Sandringham estate, which was modified in recent years to make it easier for him to get around, after he retired from public life in August 2017.
While the Queen remained largely at Buckingham Palace in London continuing her royal duties, her husband enjoyed life in the country with activities like carriage driving and painting.When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Prince Philip and the Queen spent much of their time together at Windsor Castle before his death. Originally purchased by Queen Victoria and her husband, Albert, in 1862, Sandringham “has a fantastic outlook from the front across the amazing landscaped gardens,” says former bodyguard Ken Wharfe in the winter issue of PEOPLE Royals.
“She doesn’t have to be monarch there,” added a former staffer. “She can be Elizabeth rather than the Queen.”The Queen typically stays at her estate in Norfolk starting in late December, when the royal family comes together to celebrate Christmas. However, the Queen decided to spend the holiday at Windsor Castle accompanied by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in the U.K.
The royal residence is also a bittersweet place. Queen Elizabeth traditionally stays at Sandringham until after Feb. 6, the anniversary of the day her father King George VI died and she became monarch.The public celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s birthday, known as Trooping the Colour, takes place in June. This year, Trooping the Colour — including the royal family gathering on the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch a flypast — will coincide with a weekend of festivities to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, celebrating her historic 70 years on the throne.
Although the Queen has been absent from a number of events in recent months due to health setbacks and mobility issues, the monarch stepped out on March 29 to attend a Service of Thanksgiving honoring Prince Philip.