Like many people around the world throughout the pandemic, the monarch has taken added comfort in her beloved animals

By Simon Perry and Erin Hill
February 05, 2021 01:42 PM
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Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty

Queen Elizabeth — who will mark a record-breaking 69 years on the throne on Feb. 6 — is serving as a steady constant during the nearly yearlong global pandemic.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has found the Queen, 94, at Windsor Castle alongside her husband Prince Philip for all but a few weeks since last March, with the lockdown also proving to be an unexpected reprieve for the monarch.

"In her twilight years, I'm sure it is quite lovely not to have the pressure" of a full calendar of public events, an insider tells PEOPLE.

She and Philip, 99, were among the first in the U.K. to receive the new COVID-10 vaccine last month. "Neither her physical nor her mental health are waning," says the insider.

As the U.K. remains under lockdown, the Queen has kept a regular schedule, one that stems from a disciplined and devout life.

She goes to chapel privately every week (pandemic restrictions permitting) and rises — a little later than she used to — every day to the sound of the BBC's Today news program on her classic Roberts radio.

Roberts Radio
A Roberts radio
| Credit: Roberts Radio

As she has for seven decades, she reviews the daily documents, with a special eye toward the pandemic updates. And she's taken part in several video calls with various charities and organizations.

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Queen Elizabeth on a December video call
| Credit: Royal Communications

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Like many people around the world throughout the pandemic, she has taken added comfort in her beloved animals, including her last living dorgi (a crossbred corgi and dachshund), Candy.

She continues to ride her stable of Fell ponies, a distinct English breed. And she regularly chats with her close friend and equine adviser Monty Roberts, who helped inspire the 1998 film The Horse Whisperer and credits the Queen with championing his humane methods, helping him take his message to millions.

"She goes into a peaceful mode when she is with horses," he says.

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Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Steve Parsons/PA/Splash

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Looking ahead, the Queen — who turns 95 on April 21 — will celebrate 70 years on the throne next year. The milestone will be marked in the U.K. by a four-day holiday weekend in June 2022, with commemorations attended by world leaders and projects like the Queen's Green Canopy to plant thousands of trees.

The celebration will be "something heartwarming that captures the imagination and unites the nation," says a source close to the plans.