The Queen has shared her first public statement since the death of her husband, Prince Philip, as she marked her 95th birthday on April 21.
Her Majesty, who is still in a period of mourning for the late Duke of Edinburgh, thanked royal supporters for their well-wishes in a solemn statement shared by the Palace.
"I have, on the occasion of my 95th birthday today, received many messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate," the Queen said.
She went on to reflect on the 'great sadness' she and the royal family at large are experiencing since farewelling Prince Philip with a ceremonial funeral at Windsor Castle last Saturday.
"While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world.
"My family and I would like to thank you all for the support and kindness shown to us in recent days. We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life."
Earlier that day, the Palace shared an equally sober statement on Instagram in honour of The Queen's birthday, her first following her husband's passing on Apil 9.
"Today is The Queen’s 95th birthday," the post stated alongside a photo of the monarch visiting MI5 in February last year.
"The Queen was born at 2.40am on 21 April 1926 at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London. She was the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
"This year Her Majesty remains at Windsor Castle, during a period of Royal Mourning following the death of The Duke of Edinburgh."
The post is strikingly different in tone compared with the cheery birthday message shared last year, which came with private home footage of the Queen as a child.
The Queen is reported to be spending the day privately with some of her family as the UK's COVID-19 restrictions have eased enough to allow outdoor gatherings.
She will also likely be walking her new corgi pups, Fergus and Muick, who she welcomed earlier this year.
Major event scrapped
In 2020, she marked her official birthday in June with a scaled-back 'mini' Trooping The Colour at Windsor Castle. In previous years, the popular event would have seen the whole royal family gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch the air force fly-over with thousands of Londoners.
But hopes for a return to the grand ceremony on June 12 were dashed again with the Palace announcing that this year would be similarly small and low-key.
"Following consultation with Government and other relevant parties it has been agreed that The Queen’s Official Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead this year in its traditional form in central London," read an official statement.
"Options for an alternative Parade, in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle, are being considered.
"The annual Garter service, usually held in June, will not take place this year."
The Palace has confirmed Her Majesty will attend the state opening of parliament at the Palace of Westminster on May 11.
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