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LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s oldest monarch, turned 96 on Thursday, with her now largely withdrawn from public life due to mobility issues.

Cannon fire from the Tower of London and Hyde Park will mark the event and a military band will play “Happy Birthday” for the occasion.

But the Queen, who passed the milestone of 70 years of reign in February, will celebrate the day “in a private way”, a Buckingham Palace spokesman told AFP. He took a helicopter flight on Wednesday to the royal estate of Sandringham, 200 kilometers north of London.

According to press, she will spend a few days at Wood Farm, a relatively modest home overlooking the North Sea that her husband Philip, who died last year, loved dearly.

The first months of her “platinum jubilee,” which will feature four days of much-anticipated festivities in early June, haven’t been easy amid her health problems, sexual assault allegations against her son Andrew – most recently over a financial settlement Arrived with his accuser – and questions about the future of the monarchy and the Commonwealth.

Since a brief hospitalization in October, Sovereign’s presence has become rare, even as he continues to perform “light duties” at Windsor Castle, most of the time by videoconference.

She did not attend Easter Mass at Castle Chapel last Sunday. Many of his scheduled appearances have been canceled in recent months, sometimes at the last minute.

On March 29, however, he insisted on attending a religious ceremony at Westminster Abbey to pay tribute to Prince Philip, who died at the age of 99 on April 9, 2021.

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Having reached the arm of his son Andrew, leaning on a cane, we saw him there, weak and dignified, walking slowly, rising several times during the service, and then greeting the participants. But she did not come through the main gate to limit her effort.

It was his first major public appearance in months.

She herself admitted in mid-February that she “couldn’t move”, showing off her left leg during a hearing in Windsor.

wheelchair

According to the British press, she would have used a wheelchair in private, and a customized lift would have been installed at her Scottish residence in Balmoral.

Adding to those issues, she caught COVID-19 in February, with Buckingham Palace speaking of “mild symptoms”.

“It leaves you very tired and exhausted, doesn’t it? This terrible pandemic,” the sovereign recently told caregivers.

“She is in very good shape,” however, her grandson Harry told NBC on Wednesday after a surprise visit to Windsor Castle last week with his wife Meghan. The couple, now settled in California, had not seen them for two years.

Since October, the Queen has largely handed over the crown to her 73-year-old son, Charles, the heir to the crown. But she is significantly less popular than that – 43% favored against 69% for the Queen – according to an Ipsos poll in March, and much less popular than her son, Prince William, 39 (64%).

42% of Britons would also prefer Charles to step down in favor of Prince William, whose wife Kate is also very popular (60%).

But William and Kate’s recent visits to the Caribbean, a jubilee to celebrate the monarchy’s attachment to the former colonies, have led to sometimes tense confrontations, particularly over the United Kingdom’s past slavery. Difficulties are coming.

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And Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness considered “inevitable” his country’s transition, a member of the Commonwealth of which the Queen is head, toward a republican rule.

The palace is not over, in this year of jubilee, already preparing for another test, the publication of a book of Prince Harry’s secrets expected in the fall.

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About the Author: Rusty Kemp

Tv ninja. Lifelong analyst. Award-winning music evangelist. Professional beer buff. Incurable zombie specialist.

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