Queen flies back to Windsor Castle after spending 96th birthday at Norfolk Sandringham estate

  • The Queen flew back to Windsor by helicopter on Wednesday

The Queen has flown back to Windsor by helicopter after spending her birthday on the Sandringham estate.

Buckingham Palace confirmed she returned to her Berkshire castle on Wednesday, having spent a week at her Norfolk retreat, where she celebrated turning 96 on Thursday with a drive through the grounds in the sunshine.

She is thought to have stayed at the late Duke of Edinburgh’s Wood Farm, a cottage nestled in the far reaches of the country estate.

Philip spent much of his retirement at the property before moving to Windsor during lockdown.

The Queen is expected at the State Opening of Parliament next month Credit: PA

The Queen has told how her late husband “loved” the cottage and part of its attraction was because the “sea was so close”.

Buckingham Palace confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that the Queen had arrived back at her main home.

A spokesman said she was hoping to attend the State Opening of Parliament in less than two weeks’ time, on 10 May, but confirmation is expected closer to the time or on the day.

The Queen, who has experienced mobility issues in recent months, has opened Parliament on all but two occasions during her reign.

The exceptions were in 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and then Prince Edward, when her speech was read by the Lord Chancellor.

In just over a month’s time, the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend will get under way, celebrating the nation’s longest reigning head of state’s 70 years on the throne.

Festivities include Trooping the Colour, beacon lighting, a service of thanksgiving, the Epsom Derby, a pop concert at Buckingham Palace, and a spectacular Jubilee Pageant on the streets of London.

It has not yet been confirmed how many of the high-profile events the Queen will be able to attend.