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Queen will face heartbreaking milestone without her beloved Prince Philip this weekend

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Queen Elizabeth II was married to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, from 1947 until 2021. After more than seven decades of marriage, Prince Philip died aged 99 on April 9, 2021. The couple’s long-standing marriage was widely regarded to be a happy one, and this year the Queen and Philip would have celebrated 74 years of marriage.

On Saturday, November 20, the Queen will heartbreakingly be marking what would have been another year of marriage alone.

While the Queen and Prince Philip were famously private about their relationship, wedding anniversary speeches often offered a rare glimpse into their happy union.

The Queen famously described Philip as her “strength and stay” in a speech marking their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997.

She told those present for their Golden Wedding Anniversary celebrations: “He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”

The Queen will also face another sad milestone this year in her husband’s absence – her first Christmas without Philip.

Their marriage took place five years before the Queen ascended the throne, so Philip spent most Christmases with the Queen throughout her reign.

Since the 1980s, royal Christmases have usually taken place at Sandringham in Norfolk, the Queen’s private country residence.

But this year, the Queen is thought to be returning to Sandringham for the festivities for the first time without her beloved consort.

The Queen is understood to be determined to host her extended family in Norfolk this year, having missed out on a big family Christmas last year due to Covid restrictions.

Last year, the Queen and Prince Philip spent Christmas together without their extended family at Windsor Castle.

As the Queen has taken time off in recent weeks to focus on her health, the Queen is thought to be looking forward to the festive period.

A Palace insider told the Mirror: “This year, more than ever, it is incredibly important to Her Majesty to be surrounded by her loved ones.

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“The Queen is totally committed to hosting everyone as she hopes to make it back to full health in the coming weeks.

“Her Majesty is resting under doctors’ orders with the intention of being able to fully enjoy the company of her extended family over the holiday period.

“After being forced to cancel a host of engagements, the family get-together will be the perfect tonic.”

Prince Philip was a dedicated consort to the Queen, carrying out royal duties from the start of her reign until his retirement in 2017.

The Duke was widely regarded to be one of the Royal Family’s hardest workers, retiring at the impressive age of 96.

His death in April was marked by a poignant ceremony at Windsor Castle, which took place on a smaller scale due to coronavirus restrictions.

Only 30 guests were permitted to attend the ceremony, but the guest list included all of Philip’s children and grandchildren.

The nation was moved by heartbreaking images of the Queen who, due to Covid restrictions, was seated alone away from family members for the duration of the service.

While the Queen has been reserved during this period of grieving, she is believed to have penned a heartfelt note which lay on her husband’s coffin during the procession.

According to People, the Queen signed the note off as ‘Lilibet’, her childhood nickname that only Philip was thought to still call the Queen by.

The Queen has since paid tribute to her late husband during her recorded speech at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow earlier this month.

The Queen explained that the environment was “a subject close to the heart of my dear late husband”.

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