Spare a thought for the Queen today

Queen Elizabeth turns 95 years old today, April 21 – her real birthday, not the official celebration on the second Saturday in June.

Of course, it’s also the first birthday she will spend without her husband of 73 years, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, who died on April 9.

Whether you are a monarchist or a republican, most will relate to the pain of celebrating a milestone without your close loved one.

The birthday celebrations will be scaled back this year as the Queen is still in mourning (with the Royal Family’s official mourning period due to end on Friday, April, 23) and due to coronavirus. The usual gun-salutes have been cancelled – including a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21-gun salute in Windsor Great Park and 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.

The Trooping the Colour parade marking her official birthday celebration in June has also been cancelled this year – only the third time during her reign that the parade has failed to go ahead.

So the Queen is expected to spend her birthday in a low-key way with “a small group of family members“.

As she prepares to begin the next year of her life without Prince Philip, who she described as her “strength and stay” throughout her reign, it’s heartening for all who have also experienced loss to know that she has another, eternal source of strength to lean on.

As she shared in her 2020 Easter message: “The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this …

“As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater.

“May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”