Saddest birthday for the Queen as she marks her 95th privately just days after the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh

It is set to be the most heartbreaking of days, as the Queen marks the first milestone occasion since the death of the man she called her “strength and stay”.

The monarch will today spend her 95th birthday privately, five days after she buried her husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The monarch will today spend her 95th birthday privately, five days after she buried her husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Her birthday is often celebrated with the release of an official photograph, and portraits from her 90th celebrations in 2016 were taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.

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But her birthday this year is to be a much quieter occasion as she continues to grieve for Prince Philip, who was the longest serving British consort before his death at the age of 99.

The Queen will spend the day at Windsor Castle where she is expected to be joined by family members, who have been supporting her since her husband’s death.

Although the period of national mourning for the Duke ended with his funeral service on Saturday at St George’s Chapel, the Royal Family’s official mourning will end tomorrow.

Over the past year, the Queen – and the Duke, until his death – based themselves at Windsor Castle throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Long a preferred residence of the Queen to Buckingham Palace, the castle has also been the home of staff who have isolated themselves to support the monarch, in a group dubbed HMS Bubble.

Plans for the Queen’s birthday were always going to be more low-key this year, not only due to the Covid-19 pandemic but because the focus was due to be on the Duke of Edinburgh, who would have celebrated his centenary in June.

He died peacefully at Windsor Castle on April 9, shortly after being discharged from a month-long hospital stay.

Images of the Queen sitting alone in the quire of St George’s Chapel during the 50-minute funeral service due to the need for social distancing were an emotive reminder of the loss she is feeling.

She sat alone from the other 29 family members and friends invited to join the service, which was led by the Dean of Windsor, David Conner, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

As she comes to terms with her loss, Royal experts have claimed that the Queen will turn to other constants in her life.

Two new puppies are likely to play an important role consoling their owner, according to Joe Little, the managing editor of Majesty Magazine.

The monarch will have the two lively new companions – a corgi called Muick and a dorgi named Fergus – to provide a “distraction”, along with her elderly dorgi, Candy.

Mr Little said: “The thinking was enough was enough, and that she was getting too old for new dogs and who would look after them when she was gone.

“But clearly that decision was reversed and, as it turned out, it probably is very fortuitous. I think it’s useful to have these puppies in her life now as way of a distraction.”

The Queen’s life-long love of horses and dogs is well known and, while Philip spent his final period in hospital, it emerged the Queen had been given the puppies. Mr Little said

he believes that, while Buckingham Palace will remain the seat of the Royal Court, the Queen may make Windsor Castle her permanent home, travelling to the capital for official events.