The royal family was heartened by the tributes to Prince Philip, the Queen has said, as she used the occasion of her 95th birthday to issue her first public statement since the death of her husband.
The monarch and other members of the family gathered for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor on Saturday. He died on 9 April.
“I have, on the occasion of my 95th birthday today, received many messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate,” she said on Wednesday.
“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.”
Philip’s death came a few months before his 100th birthday, which was due to be the focus of royal celebrations this year, while the Queen’s 95th was to be more low-key.
Members of the public have been signing an online book of condolence, which has also offered people across the globe the opportunity to share memories of the duke. People have left floral tributes with cards and letters at royal palaces in his memory, though palace staff have been discouraging this in order to stop people gathering during the pandemic.
After 73 years of married life, the Queen now reigns alone without the support of her “strength and stay”, as she famously described her late husband.
During her birthday, which will be a private event and low-key, she could meet members of her family for an outside lunch or be joined as she walks her dogs or rides her pony in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Boris Johnson tweeted that he had “always had the highest admiration” for the Queen.
He said: “I would like to send my warm wishes to Her Majesty The Queen on her 95th birthday ... I am proud to serve as her prime minister.”