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Queen Elizabeth II, longest-reigning living monarch, to mark 70 years on throne

Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday becomes the first British monarch to reign for 70 years, heralding the start of her Platinum Jubilee year despite her retreat from public view.

But the landmark date this weekend will see little fanfare, as the 95-year-old monarch traditionally spends the anniversary of the death of her father in private.

The sovereign’s record-breaking reign as head of state began when she was aged 25 and watching wildlife in a remote part of Kenya with her husband, Prince Philip.

She has since become the one constant in an era of rapid social and political change, a figurehead of modern Britain and a living link to its post-war and imperial past.

The Queen — who regularly tops surveys as the most popular royal — on January 23 flew by helicopter to her sprawling Sandringham estate in eastern England.

She had been due to stay at Sandringham House with close family over Christmas and the New Year but the annual visit was postponed because of surging cases of Omicron.

No public engagements are expected on Sunday, in keeping with previous years.

But four days of festivities are planned for early June, including a military parade and a music concert, street parties, a mass attendance picnic and a “Platinum Pudding Competition”.

Commemorative coins have been minted to mark the unprecedented milestone.

Retreat

At Sandringham, the queen is staying at Wood Farm, a five-bedroom cottage that was favoured by her late husband after he retired from public life in 2017.

According to British media, Prince Philip spent his time there reading, painting and walking, in more modest surroundings away from liveried servants and royal pomp.

The queen travelled to Sandringham by helicopter and was photographed in the back of a Range Rover, wearing a silk headscarf printed with birds.

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