Royal family gathers for Easter without Queen as 96th birthday approaches

In keeping with tradition, the British royal family stepped out on Sunday to celebrate Easter – but its matriarch was noticeably absent. 

Queen Elizabeth II, who has been experiencing mobility issues, did not attend the service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Sunday, a staple in the royal calendar. 

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall also missed the service, but stood in for the Queen at the annual Royal Maundy Service on April 14.

In their absence, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge led the royals on Easter Sunday, accompanied by their two eldest children, Prince George, 8, and Princess Charlotte, 6.

Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, was also in attendance with his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and their two children, Lady Louise, 18, and James, Viscount Severn, 14. 

The Queen has continued to cut back on major public duties after spending a night in hospital in October, spraining her back in November, and picking up a mild case of COVID-19 in February.

The last time Elizabeth appeared in public was at the memorial service for her late husband, Prince Philip, in March.

She has, however, carried on with her official duties virtually.

The Queen’s birthday

Elizabeth turns 96 on April 21, which is her actual birthday.

She celebrates two birthdays every year, the second being her official birthday, which is usually held on the second Saturday in June. 

In the past, official celebrations to mark a monarch’s birthday have been held on a day that isn’t their real birthday. 

King Edward VII, for example, officially celebrated his birthday in May or June when the weather was likely warmer in the UK for a public celebration, rather than on November 9. 

The Queen spends her birthday privately with her family, but the occasion is marked publicly by gun salutes in central London at noon.

For her official birthday this year, celebrations are expected to return with a bang after scaled-back affairs due to the pandemic.

Her Majesty is set to attend the Trooping of the Colour parade, which has marked the official birthday of the British monarch for more than 260 years. 

The parade will close with an RAF fly past, watched by the royal family from the Buckingham Palace balcony. 

Last year, the Queen’s official birthday was marked with a revised ceremony amid lockdowns. 

Instead of Buckingham Palace, the parade was held at Windsor Castle, where Elizabeth has been based since at least March 2020. 

She attended the display, which took place in the Quadrangle of the castle, the large lawn within the grounds of Windsor.


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The Platinum Jubilee weekend

June is shaping up to be a big month for the Queen.

Trooping the Colour is usually held on the second Saturday of June, but this year’s parade has been moved to June 2 to fall in line with a holiday weekend to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne, otherwise known as her Platinum Jubilee. 

The four-day celebration will include public events and community activities, such as the Service of Thanksgiving for Elizabeth’s reign at St Paul’s Cathedral, the Derby at Epsom Downs (we know the Queen loves horses) and a Platinum Party at the palace. 

As part of the latter, the BBC will stage and broadcast a special live concert from Buckingham Palace that will feature some of the world’s biggest stars.

The Queen’s attendance across the four-day weekend has already been written into the official plans, but only time will tell if the almost 96-year-old will be present. 

In a year that is supposed to celebrate her greatest achievements, Elizabeth’s health continues to steal the spotlight. 

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