Why Prince Philip Won't Be Returning to Windsor Castle with the Queen After Their Summer Break
The Queen's staff is taking precautions so the monarch and Prince Philip can still see each other in the coming months
Later this month, the royal couple will depart Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where they typically spend their summer break, to "spend time privately on the Sandringham Estate" in Norfolk, a palace spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE Tuesday. They added that it's the Queen's "intention" to return to Windsor Castle in October, visiting Buckingham Palace in London for "selected audiences and engagements."
When the monarch, 94, returns to Windsor, where the couple spent much of the spring and summer amid the coronavirus pandemic, Prince Philip will stay in Sandringham at Wood Farm. The 99-year-old royal, who retired from public life in August 2017 after 64 years of service, spends most of his time at the estate located about 100 miles north of London in Norfolk while the Queen carries out her royal duties in London.
Despite their separation, the staff is said to be creating a special bubble so the Queen and Prince Philip can safely visit each other in the coming months.
Wood Farm is a five-bedroom home that has been Philip's main residence since his retirement.
"It is certainly true that Wood Farm is the one royal home where the Queen feels she can escape from the pressures of monarchy and being under the spotlight," Richard Kay wrote in The Daily Mail. "There are far fewer of the rituals that govern her life: Philip has seen to that. The staff, for example, do not always have to wear royal livery — and it is the one residence where the Queen is likely to be seen in the kitchen."
The Queen usually heads back to her London residence at Buckingham Palace at the beginning of October following her annual break at Balmoral in Scotland. Sandringham is traditionally used by Queen Elizabeth and the royal family for entertaining over Christmas and for her winter break. She doesn't typically visit her home in Norfolk following her summer stay in Scotland.
Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
The time away from Buckingham Palace will be the longest she has been away from the central seat of the monarchy during her 68-year-old reign, says The Sunday Times.
A royal source was quoted by the Times as saying, "There is a desire to get Buckingham Palace up and running again as a working palace, but only if all the relevant advice suggests that it is appropriate to do so."