The Queen is back to work - but is it business as usual at the end of a most unusual year?
She has reached many milestones in her 64-year reign, but an anniversary holds a special place in the Queen's heart. Because it is the day 80 years ago that she gave her first public speech.
A then 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth, along with Princess Margaret, her younger sister, gave a wartime radio broadcast on October 13, 1940 addressing the children of the Commonwealth, many of whom were not at home because of the war.
She wished them “good night… and good luck” and said, “We know, each of us, that everything will be fine in the end. Because God will take care of us and give us victory and peace. And when peace comes, remember that we, the children of today, must make tomorrow's world a better and happier place. "
Buckingham Palace will no doubt mark the moment when the 94-year-old monarch first signaled a commitment to duty that characterizes her life on the throne.
And as she prepares to resume her official engagements in London this week, that deeply ingrained sense of obligation is reappearing.
March: The Queen attended a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey - Chris Jackson
After traveling Tuesday from Wood Farm in Norfolk to Windsor Castle, where she has been with the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, since mid-September, Her Majesty's arrival in the capital is set to signal a return to normal business. after an unusual year.
Ordinarily the couple would have stayed at Balmoral Castle until now. Instead, they decided to end their summer in the relatively humble farmhouse on the Sandringham Estate, which has been the Duke of Edinburgh's main base since stepping down from public life in 2017.
May: The Queen is pictured on horseback while residing at Windsor Castle - Steve Parsons / PA
The move to the reduced property was not only economically oriented, but also because Balmoral became a little tiring without the typical steady stream of visitors.
Although family members like the Princess Royal, the Wessexes, and the Cambridges came to visit, it just wasn't as comfortable as usual due to social distancing rules.
A source said: "It was a bit boring at times - not just for the staff, but for the royals themselves. Balmoral can be a little tricky at times, but the coronavirus made things even more difficult. Quite a lot of time was spent sitting around and turning your thumbs. "
The Queen's dedicated team, nicknamed "HMS Bubble", had to self-isolate for two weeks before even traveling to the Scottish Highlands.
Once there, they were banned from social activities and, as the annual Ghillies Ball was canceled due to Covid-19, had little to do when they were not on duty.
June: The Queen celebrates her official birthday with a ceremony at Windsor Castle. The traditional Trooping the Color didn't take place - WPA Pool / Getty
Without the usual social facilities to keep them busy, the employees were housed in a boring granite building called New Block, which some referred to as "Colditz" after the POW camp.
Another source added, “Everyone was pretty bored. I think the Queen and Duke went to Wood Farm mostly because of a change of scene, more than anything. "
Although two teams formed the HMS Bubble and were regularly turned on and off, some employees, including Angela Kelly, the Queen's “right-wing woman” and Paul Whybrew, her personal side, are said to have stayed by her side since March.
It is believed that efforts were made last week to persuade the Duke to return to Windsor with his wife, where they spent the first five months of their mutual ban. Instead, he has chosen to stay at the five-bedroom Wood Farm, where he enjoys his independence away from formal royal life and spends most of his time in an armchair reading.
Remaining in Norfolk while the Queen returns to her “court” means to a woman of state whose personal mantra has always been: “I must be seen to be believed.” A return to a kind of normalcy.
As one adjutant put it: “Buckingham Palace is a functioning palace and a symbol of a functioning monarchy. The queen's gentle strength is never better demonstrated than when she meets foreign leaders and diplomats there.
July: Captain Tom Moore is knighted by the Queen in a socially distant ceremony - Samir Hussein / WireImage
"If you can do that in the palace, then it is desirable to do so." For this reason, "selected" target groups and other small gatherings - within the so-called rule of six - were included in the Windsor diary. There is talk of the Queen's weekly conversations with the Prime Minister, most of which were over the phone during the outbreak and resumed face-to-face.
At this time, the memorial service at the cenotaph on Sunday November 8th is the only major public event that the Queen is guaranteed to attend in person.
Not only is it one of the most heavily inked engagements in Her Majesty's Diary, but it has special meaning this year as well, as it will mark the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the Whitehall Cenotaph War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in the US Westminster Abbey.
Proposals have already been made to massively reduce attendance at this year's commemoration on Sunday, while the Festival of Remembrance, which traditionally took place the night before at the Royal Albert Hall and in which the Queen and her family attended, will not take place in the usual format .
How the rest of the time before Christmas goes by, it remains to be seen what everyone behind the palace gates describes as a "flowing situation". "Every decision we make depends on the latest restrictions. Like everyone else, we have to make them as they come every day," a source said.
There are already discussions about where the couple will be spending Christmas - and more importantly, with whom.
With the Duke remaining in Norfolk, the Queen will most likely return to Sandringham as usual for the festive season in the week leading up to Christmas. Ordinarily she would take the train from King's Cross to King's Lynn to get there, but that seems unlikely under the current circumstances.
Since Christmas is usually a big family get-together for the royals, the couple will narrow the guest list down significantly. The Cambridges are likely to be the first to sign out as they are a family of five. It is believed that they will spend the season of goodwill at Anm Hall, their nearby Norfolk home.
Related: Step Forward, the People's Prince: How William Became an Adult Resident of the Royal Family
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