Recuperating from a heavy cold, Queen Elizabeth has not been seen in public since the annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace on Dec. 8. She then hosted the royal family at a special pre-Christmas parties at the palace, and her helicopter was spotted leaving for Sandringham on Dec. 22, one day after canceling her annual train trip to her winter retreat.
But with her missing the New Year’s Day church service with the rest of the royal family, when can we expect to see her again? She usually stays at Sandringham until a few days after Accession Day on February 6 – the day that marks the death of her father George VI and when she became Queen. This year will see her celebrate 65 years on the throne.
There are currently no official future engagements listed for the Queen yet. But she may be seen heading to church on Sunday if she is well enough. As of Wednesday, there is no news on whether she is expected this weekend. And she will likely visit her friends at a Women’s Institute meeting and tea party close to her home later in the month. A date for that event has not been confirmed.
But on Tuesday, she carried out an important duty behind closed doors at Sandringham House in Norfolk – rewarding a favorite servant. Raymond Wheaton was “received by the Queen,” according to the court circular — the daily diary of royal engagements.
Wheaton, who is page of the chambers, was awarded the Insignia of Lieutenant of the order — one of the awards that’s personally chosen by the Monarch, as opposed to by a committee and politicians. Established by Queen Victoria, it rewards personal service to the Monarch of the day.
Wheaton has worked at the palace for about 30 years and is described by royals writer Robert Hardman in Our Queen as a “quick-witted, one-man reconnaissance patrol.” He heads up the preparation of the state rooms, the hospitality at the palace and managing ceremonial audiences and investitures, where people receive honors from senior members of the family.
On Tuesday, the Queen also sent a message of condolence to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan following the New Year’s Eve attack on a nightclub in Istanbul that killed 39 people. Signed Elizabeth R, it read, “Prince Philip and I were saddened to learn of the terrible attack in Istanbul on New Year’s Day. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and the wounded, and with the Turkish people at this time.”
The Queen’s office usually schedules a local outing to a charity or a school before she heads back south to London and Buckingham Palace shortly after February 6.
A deeply religious woman, and head of the Protestant Church of England, the Queen likes to worship at other neighboring churches during this period too and may do so if she is fit enough, according to royal watchers.
Apart from sending the message to Turkey and the investiture of her servant Wheaton, royal staff told PEOPLE that the Queen is up and about and working on her red boxes and government papers behind closed doors.
It has been a difficult month for the Queen. Just days before her last public engagement alongside husband Prince Philip, Prince William, Princess Kate, Prince Charles and Camilla at the annual gathering of diplomats at the palace, she mourned the deaths of two close friends — cousin and confidante Margaret Rhodes and one of her bridesmaids, Lady Elizabeth Longman.