Queen Elizabeth Travels to Sandringham to Spend 96th Birthday at Prince Philip's Favorite Place

Prince Philip, who died in April 2021 at age 99, spent much of his time at the five-bedroom Wood Farm home on the Sandringham estate

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth arrives in Sandringham ahead of her 96th birthday. Photo: Geoff Robinson/Splash News Online

Queen Elizabeth will mark her 96th birthday in a place full of reminders of her late husband Prince Philip.

On Wednesday, the monarch traveled from Windsor Castle to her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, about 110 miles north of London, ahead of her birthday on Thursday, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

The palace told PEOPLE that the Queen will be spending her birthday privately.

Prince Philip, who died in April 2021 at age 99, spent much of his time at the cozy five-bedroom Wood Farm home on the Sandringham estate, which was modified in recent years to make it easier for him to get around, after he retired from public life in August 2017. While the Queen remained largely at Buckingham Palace in London continuing her royal duties, her husband enjoyed life in the country with activities like carriage driving and painting.

Queen Elizabeth II on the 30th anniversary of her reign, with the Duke of Edinburgh on their estate at Sandringham, Norfolk
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Sandringham. Dennis Oulds/Central Press/Getty

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Prince Philip and the Queen spent much of their time together at Windsor Castle before his death.

For more on Queen Elizabeth's birthday, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Originally purchased by Queen Victoria and her husband, Albert, in 1862, Sandringham "has a fantastic outlook from the front across the amazing landscaped gardens," says former bodyguard Ken Wharfe in the winter issue of PEOPLE Royals.

"She doesn't have to be monarch there," added a former staffer. "She can be Elizabeth rather than the Queen."

Queen Elizabeth Sporting the Crown Through the Years
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. getty

The Queen typically stays at her estate in Norfolk starting in late December, when the royal family comes together to celebrate Christmas. However, the Queen decided to spend the holiday at Windsor Castle accompanied by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in the U.K.

The royal residence is also a bittersweet place. Queen Elizabeth traditionally stays at Sandringham until after Feb. 6, the anniversary of the day her father King George VI died and she became monarch.

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Princess Beatrice, Lady Louise Windsor, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Savannah Phillips, Prince George of Cambridge and Isla Phillips
Trooping the Colour 2018. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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 public celebration of Queen Elizabeth's birthday, known as Trooping the Colour, takes place in June. This year, Trooping the Colour — including the royal family gathering on the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch a flypast — will coincide with a weekend of festivities to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, celebrating her historic 70 years on the throne.

Although the Queen has been absent from a number of events in recent months due to health setbacks and mobility issues, the monarch stepped out on March 29 to attend a Service of Thanksgiving honoring Prince Philip.

Related Articles