"Her Christian faith means so much to her," a close insider tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story

queen elizabeth ii
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

As she navigates the difficulties of life during a global pandemic, Queen Elizabeth is drawing heavily on the strength she derives from her deeply held faith — even as she is not able to worship the way she would like.

Those who know her say she misses the community feel of going to church with friends and family during her isolation at the 1000-year-old Windsor Castle alongside her husband of 72 years, Prince Philip. (She invited Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to join her at church on the Sunday before they left the U.K. in March.)

"Her Christian faith means so much to her, and those rituals of going to church on Sunday and praying in chapel are not happening," a close insider tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story.

queen elizabeth on cover of people magazine
Queen Elizabeth on the cover of PEOPLE

Related: Queen Elizabeth Makes Rare Televised Address Amid Coronavirus Pandemic: 'We Will Meet Again'

But she sees everything through the wisdom of 68 years on the throne. "She feels the poignancy, but that does not turn into depression or defeat," says historian and biographer Robert Lacey, author of books Majesty and Monarch. "She sees it in the bigger context of her religious faith and of a God who holds her and her family in his hands. It is the solid and simple faith that sustains the Queen."

For more about how the Queen is keeping calm and carrying on at age 94, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands on Friday

Queen Elizabeth on a morning horse ride at Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth (with a horse groom) on a ride at Windsor Castle in 2016.
| Credit: Rex Features/startraksphoto

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Life in the country is also a great support for her, a close observer adds: “She loves to be out walking her dogs and is still riding.”