How Queen Elizabeth Is Coping with Heartbreak, Scandal and Transition: 'She Is Mentally Disciplined,' Says Source

The life and enduring legacy of the Queen, 95, as she enters her historic Platinum Jubilee year is covered in the next issue of PEOPLE Royals

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Joe Giddens/Getty

For Queen Elizabeth, the 70th year of her record-breaking reign has been one of the most trying of her life.

In April, she endured the loss of her beloved rock, Prince Philip, just short of his 100th birthday and with whom she enjoyed a 73-year marriage. Then, there is the ongoing legal turmoil surrounding her second son, Prince Andrew, who exited public life amid the furor about his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and the continued fallout stemming from her grandson, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leaving their roles as working royal family members in early 2020.

But the Queen, 95, who's now largely been confined to Windsor Castle after some health setbacks in late fall, has a way of coping with personal and public setbacks.

"She keeps things a little separate between family and official issues because otherwise, it becomes overwhelming," a close insider says in the latest issue of PEOPLE Royals, out Friday, December 17.

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Queen Elizabeth

Longstanding biographer of the Queen, Ingrid Seward, says that "her ability to compartmentalize has been extremely helpful in her life," as she juggles family with her public role. "Fundamentally she puts things in a box and says 'that can be dealt with on Thursday,' for example."

Seward adds: "She won't let things crowd in on her. She is mentally disciplined and that has helped her through these 70 years. It has enabled her to deal with all the things and not allow things to overwhelm her. It goes a long way towards explaining her ability to be able to still be working at this age."

Queen Elizabeth II attends the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the Senedd at The Senedd on October 14, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales.
Queen Elizabeth. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

The close insider says that her outward frailties might show that she is slightly stooped (she was spotted recently using a cane) but "her face is clear and cheerful and wide-eyed — this is not someone who life is getting down. Her phlegmatic nature and her shock absorbers are such that she can take the setbacks." The insider cites "her temperament and religious faith. It feels to me she can carry on for some time."

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The Queen is planning a royal family Christmas at Sandringham House, in Norfolk, where she'll stay until after the anniversary of the February 6th death her father King George VI. It'll be her first in 73 years without Philip by her side.

"She will be missing his companionship deeply," says someone who knows the Sovereign well. "But she is a very stoic person."

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured 1/6/2020 in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th birthday on Wednesday.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty

Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch, says, "The way he died, so very peacefully, there was a natural, organic way to how he left. And I am sure she had plenty of time to prepare for it." But, she adds, "I don't think anyone should underestimate that, however resilient, however faith-based and however strong she is, this is a confidant who is no longer there."

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