Queen Elizabeth II may be largely confined to Windsor Castle, but palace sources insist the reigning monarch isn’t lonely.
The 95-year-old lost her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, in April – just short of his 100th birthday. Several close friends have also passed away in recent months.
In the latest issue of PEOPLE Royals, out on Friday, a source revealed that the queen has an intimate “bubble” of people that she’s closely connected to.
“The queen can go from being magisterial to chatty with those she trusts,” said the royal source. “She has good judgment once she trusts people – and once she does, it is very easy.”
Sources have said Queen Elizabeth II will be with the rest of the royal family during the holidays. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
According to the outlet, Elizabeth began having friends over in Windsor during the summer for lunches and dinners. They also enjoyed watching TV late into the evening. Lady Susan Hussey, Lady Annabel Whitehead, Lady Elizabeth Leeming, Prince Charles’s former nanny Mabel Anderson and Susan Rhodes are all reported to be part of the queen’s inner circle.
The source also shared that Elizabeth is rarely alone and is often accompanied by close aide Angela Kelly and footman Paul Whybrew. Palace staffers also work tirelessly to ensure the palace is “a cheerful place” for the queen.
In addition, she receives regular visits from her son Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex as the couple lives a short drive away. Her youngest son Prince Andrew also lives nearby and reportedly makes frequent visits.
“Those who are in [the bubble] cherish their place,” the source told the outlet. “They are a support for the queen and someone that they can have a laugh with and she can talk about the issues of the day.”
In this Aug. 1951 file photo, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, stands with her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne at Clarence House, the royal couple’s London residence. Prince Philip was born into the Greek royal family but spent almost all of his life as a pillar of the British one. His path was forged when he married the heir to the British throne, and a promising naval career was cut short when his wife suddenly became Queen Elizabeth II. Nevertheless, he set about forging a place for himself as royal consort. He was a patron of charities and a supporter of projects for young people. He was married for more than 73 years and was still carrying out royal engagements into his late 90s. (AP Photo/Eddie Worth)
“She has a strong religious faith,” he shared. “One of the things that the queen has done is pray throughout all of this. She also has a loyal, supportive group of private secretaries, ladies in waiting and devoted friends who have been a strong system around her. She also has the support of her close-knit family.”
“She finds it difficult to confront difficult issues,” he noted. “I think she has gotten better over time.”
Dennison, who has written eight critically acclaimed books, has recently penned “The Queen,” a biography that explores Elizabeth’s decades-long reign. He spoke to several palace insiders, both past and present, to tell the queen’s story. Dennison said that during his research, faith played a prominent role in the royal’s life.
Queen Elizabeth II has been relying on her Christian faith during tough times. (Alastair Grant/ The Associated Press)
“She has a connection with the divine,” he explained. “She is a monarch who made a promise before God to fulfill her duty. And it’s a promise she has taken very seriously in her life. Even as a young woman, she has faced an overwhelming expectation on what kind of queen she should be… She has embraced that role.”
Despite losing her beloved husband, Dennison said Elizabeth has zero plans to step down. Her eldest son Prince Charles, 73, is first in line to the throne.
“There wasn’t ever a realistic expectation that the death of the Duke of Edinburgh would lead the queen to abdicate,” Dennison shared. “In the very few times she has spoken about it to her close friends, she has always been quite clear that the promises she made in her coronation are binding. These are promises she made to God in the church. These are holy promises. She’s always said she would abdicate only if she got Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, or something that would leave her incapacitated in some way. But this role is for life.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.