The Queen has escaped Covid restrictions at Windsor Castle to spend a long weekend with Prince Philip at Sandringham, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
She is expected to return to Windsor early this week.
Until Covid struck, the modest farmhouse on the Norfolk estate had become 99-year-old Prince Philip’s main home following his retirement from formal Royal duties in 2017.
However, he left in March to join the Queen at Windsor, where they spent four months with a specially screened household dubbed ‘HMS Bubble’.
The Queen has escaped Covid restrictions at Windsor Castle to spend a long weekend with Prince Philip at Sandringham, The Mail on Sunday can reveal
They also had a summer holiday at Balmoral in August, but spent less than half their normal ten weeks in Scotland due to coronavirus restrictions there that limit visits from family and friends.
The Duke then wanted to return to Wood Farm and, in an unusual move, the Queen decided to join him before returning to Windsor last month.
Wood Farm has long been a favourite of the couple. The five-bedroom farmhouse brings back fond memories from their younger days, as the Queen cooks and the Duke does the washing-up.
The small number of staff there do not wear Royal livery, and it is still the one home where the Queen feels she can escape the pressures of monarchy.
When she returned to Windsor alone at the start of October, the plan was for her to commute between Norfolk, Windsor and Buckingham Palace where she could have official engagements.
Seemingly, however, that has proved unworkable, and her only Royal visit has been a trip to the Porton Down military research laboratory near Salisbury.
Until Covid struck, the modest farmhouse on the Norfolk estate had become 99-year-old Prince Philip’s main home following his retirement from formal Royal duties in 2017
Part of the issue has been maintaining the integrity of the ‘Bubble’. Before staff look after the Queen, 94, and the Duke, they must self-isolate for two weeks to prevent any danger of the Royals catching Covid-19.
The couple celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary this month, having spent more time together in the past six months than since their early married life in Malta, where they lived simply in a villa from 1949 to 1951 – the only period when the Queen said she lived ‘normally’. As Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen was at her happiest in the gardens she helped design.
The Queen is also seeking a neighbour to rent Flitcham Hall, a six-bedroom manor house on her 20,000-acre Norfolk estate.
Less than two miles from Sandringham House, it will be available from next spring for £3,750 a month. Tenants are allowed to have dogs, but no cats – a ban thought to have been introduced after domestic cats killed game birds on the estate that had been reared for Royal shooting parties.
The Sandringham estate website says: ‘Flitcham Hall is the ultimate private country house set off the beaten track. Please be aware we have a strict no cats policy. Dogs will be considered.’
Buckingham Palace declined to comment last night.