The Queen and Prince Philip found the coronavirus pandemic “staggeringly difficult” as they were under lockdown at Windsor Castle, Prince Edward has revealed.
The 95-year-old monarch and the late duke were forced to isolate with 22 members of staff in an operation a top aide dubbed “HMS Bubble”.
The Earl of Wessex, 57, and his 56-year-old wife Sophie, 56, spoke candidly about how the Covid crisis impacted his parents as the world shut down to tackle the virus.
Edward told The Telegraph Magazine: “For them, life is so much about contact, it’s so much about people and then suddenly that all stops.”
He said his mum’s engagements keep her busy as it “doesn’t really give her very much time to dwell on anything for too long” but the pandemic was ‘staggeringly difficult’ for his parents.
Like most families the Wessexes were forced to make socially distanced meetings with the Queen and the Duke outdoors.
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This meant they could only enter the castle grounds and not the property itself.
The Countess said: “We used to see them stand on the balcony, which was about 20 feet up in the air.
“We’d see them waving. We’d shout at them and they’d shout back at us. It always seemed to be windy, so we could barely hear each other.”
‘HMS Bubble’ has been credited with supporting the Queen throughout the pandemic and as she grieves for her husband of 73 years following his death on April 9.
Among those closest to her, the Telegraph reports, are senior dresser Angela Kelly, head groom, Terry Pendry, private secretary Sir Edward Young and page of the backstairs, Paul Whybrew.
The Queen and Philip were said to find the moniker for their group very amusing after it was coined by Vice-Admiral Sir Tony Johnstone-Burt, master of the household.
In an email to staff the former naval officer likened their situation to being out at sea.
He wrote: “There are 22 Royal Household staff inside the Bubble, and it struck me that our predicament is not dissimilar to my former life in the Royal Navy on a long overseas deployment.”
After stepping own from official royal duties, Philip had been occupying himself in his retirement mostly at his cottage, Wood Farm, in the sanctuary of the Sandringham estate, more than 100 miles away from the Queen, who was usually at Buckingham Palace or at Windsor.
But they were reunited at the Berkshire castle for their safety after Philip was flown there by helicopter on March 19 last year days before the first lockdown was rolled out.
Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said it was “an opportunity for them in their later years to reconnect” and the “perfect royal cocooning”.
The monarch and Philip most likely had lunch or dinner together each day while spending other time on their separate interests.
Philip kept himself busy reading, writing and painting, and even released a rare public statement in April 2020, his first since his retirement, praising key workers and those making sure that essential services are kept running during the coronavirus pandemic.
She reassured the country that the virus would be overcome, telling those in isolation: “We will meet again.”
In the confines of the castle grounds, the monarch and Philip were pictured together to mark the duke turning 99 in June 2020.
The couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary on November 20 last year, and were pictured together looking at a card made for them by the Cambridge children.
They also spent Christmas apart from the rest of the royal family.
On January 9 this year, Buckingham Palace took the unusual step of announcing that they both had received their Covid-19 vaccinations, administered by a royal doctor at the castle.