The monarch extended her sympathy to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines following a series of volcanic eruptions

By Stephanie Petit
April 16, 2021 10:25 AM
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Queen Elizabeth has shared her first solo statement since the death of her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip.

The 94-year-old monarch extended her sympathy and support to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Commonwealth nation, following a series of volcanic eruptions.

While statements of this kind typically start with "The Duke of Edinburgh and I," this is the first such message to be sent following Philip's death on April 9 at the age of 99 that didn't include her husband.

"I have been saddened by the destruction and major disruption caused by volcanic eruptions in recent days, and my thoughts are with the many people and families who have been evacuated from their homes, and whose livelihoods have been affected," the Queen said. "I send my thanks to the emergency services and all those involved in the relief effort."

She concluded, "My prayers will remain with the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines at this very difficult time."

Queen Elizabeth has not yet addressed Prince Philip's death with the public (aside from a statement released on her behalf announcing his death), but many family members have shared statements praising Philip's dedication to the monarch, the country and the Commonwealth.

The day after Prince Philip's death, the Queen's daughter-in-law Sophie, Countess of Wessex tearfully told people gathered outside Windsor Castle that "the Queen has been amazing."

Amid reports that the monarch will be accompanied by family members at future engagements, a former senior aide at the palace tells PEOPLE, "Her family will step up and be by her side, but she will carry on. She understands that she has a job to do, and [Philip] would have wanted her to crack on. She did do so when he retired from public life."

A close royal insider adds, "She will never abdicate because of duty and honor and public service is so deep in her, as it was for him."

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: STEVE REIGATE/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Queen resumed her royal duties just days after Philip's death, hosting a retirement ceremony Tuesday at Windsor Castle in honor of Earl Peel who stepped down as Lord Chamberlain a week before Prince Philip died, according to the Court Circular

Prior to Peel's retirement after 14 years in the Lord Chamberlain position, he was overseeing the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral proceedings. Peel's duties are being taken over by former MI5 spy chief Baron Andrew Parker.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

At 13, the future Queen first met a then 18-year-old Prince Philip in 1939, when she joined her parents and sister Princess Margaret on a visit to Dartmouth naval college. While Elizabeth was reserved and shy, she was smitten by Philip's zest for adventure.

"She fell in love, and she never looked at anyone else," biographer Sally Bedell Smith tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story.

Queen Elizabeth
The then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day
| Credit: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty

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The two exchanged countless letters while Philip served in the Royal Navy during World War II. They married after a year-long courtship on Nov. 20, 1947, an occasion that called for national celebration following the devastating war.

"There had been grayness and austerity, and then to have this golden coach and crowds made it exciting," Lady Pamela, the daughter of Philip's uncle Lord Mountbatten and a longtime lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth who served as a bridesmaid, previously told PEOPLE.