Queen Elizabeth Was Never The Same After Prince Philip Died

The loss of Prince Philip in April 2021 hit no one harder than Queen Elizabeth, his wife of over 70 years. As much as the two were decades-long companions who loved one another and raised four children, they had a unique relationship that appeared to work for the two of them. As Town & Country wrote in April 2022, the pair would live apart throughout their marriage, and they often engaged in interests that weren't shared by the other. This followed the marriage advice that Philip himself later gave to a member of Queen Elizabeth's staff. As told to royal author Tina Brown, Philip was in his 90s when he asked, "Do you want some marriage advice? Spend enough time apart, and make sure you don't have all the same interests."

Despite that somewhat atypical arrangement, it was clear to their family and friends that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip loved one another deeply. As such, it wasn't too surprising when the queen began to suffer medical ailments following her husband's passing. Here is a look at what happened to Queen Elizabeth after Prince Philip died.

Prince Philip died in April 2021

Prince Philip passed away at the age of 99 in April 2021. News of his passing was announced by Buckingham Palace. The institution released a statement that explained in part, "It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss" (per the BBC).

The public was still trapped in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time of Philip's passing, and therefore were asked to reconsider leaving flowers in memory. Instead, the palace asked that the public make donations to charitable organizations.

Many wondered how the loss of her husband of several decades would impact Queen Elizabeth. As royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell noted, while Philip's passing was a "moment of sadness" for the nation, it was "most particularly for the queen, losing her husband of 73 years — a bigger span of years than most of us can imagine" (via BBC).

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth were married for 73 years

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip met back in 1939, when Philip was 18 years old and Elizabeth was only 13 years old. The two began exchanging letters, though the queen's family didn't immediately approve of the pair's interaction. As The Metro reported, Philip spent a good deal of time convincing King George VI and the Queen Mother that he was serious about pursuing a relationship with their daughter. Philip once wrote a letter to Elizabeth's mother in which he explained, "The only thing in this world which is absolutely real to me, and my ambition, is to weld the two of us into a new combined existence that will not only be able to withstand the shocks directed at us, but will also have a positive existence for the good."

Elizabeth and Philip married in 1947 at Windsor Castle and the pair enjoyed two honeymoons together. Their first child, King Charles, was born in 1948, and he was followed by Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward. Philip was at Elizabeth's side during her coronation in 1953 (per Woman & Home). The two were often together over the decades that followed, whether they were enduring controversy or celebration. 

Prince Philip has been described as Queen Elizabeth's rock

Of everyone in her life and her orbit during her lifetime, it's clear that Prince Philip was the most important person to Queen Elizabeth. While speaking on Sky News Australia's First Edition, Piers Morgan explained that Philip was a "gigantic" source of support for Elizabeth for the majority of her life. He said, "They were married for over 70 years. He was her rock. He abandoned his own very successful naval career to be by her side, and I think they were a magnificent couple and she never really recovered" (per YouTube).

Lord Charteris, who worked as a private secretary for Queen Elizabeth, also once commented on their marriage. As he told it, "Prince Philip is the only man in the world who treats the queen simply as another human being." Charteris went on to add that he believed this treatment was part of Philip's appeal to the queen, and that it was likely no other man would have had the ability to treat her that way (per The Guardian).

Queen Elizabeth had to sit alone at Prince Philip's funeral

Prince Philip passed away while COVID-19 restrictions were still in place in the United Kingdom, which meant family members had to attend the funeral in an unusual way. One rule that was applied to the funeral itself was that members of the same household could be seated together, but others had to sit at least two meters, or six feet, apart. Unfortunately, this meant that Queen Elizabeth was seated completely alone throughout the entire funeral proceedings for her husband (per CNN).

Prior to Philip's death, he and the queen had been in a home bubble that included themselves and members of their household staff. Queen Elizabeth was not permitted to join the bubble of any other family members in time for the funeral. She wasn't the only royal who was required to sit alone, as Prince Harry attended the service without his wife, Meghan Markle. However, photographs of the queen mourning on her own were a stark glimpse for the public into the coming months (via CNN).

Prince Andrew said Queen Elizabeth felt a huge void following Prince Philip's death

More than anyone, Queen Elizabeth's family members were aware of the pain and loss that she felt after Prince Philip died. While speaking to reporters outside the Royal Chapel of All Saints, Prince Andrew explained that his mother described her experience as having "a huge void" once her husband died, and that "the queen, as you would expect, is an incredibly stoic person and she described his passing as a miracle and she is contemplating, I think, that's the way I would put it" (via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

However, Queen Elizabeth was also acutely aware of the fact that royal life and service had to continue, even following the death of her husband. As the Australian Broadcasting Corporation noted, she was back to work just four days later when she hosted Lord Chamberlain at his retirement ceremony.

She had to weather Prince Andrew's sex abuse scandal alone

Prince Andrew was sued by Virginia Giuffre in August 2021 and accused of sexually abusing and raping Giuffre when she was only 17 years old. Giuffre released a statement that explained her decision to sue Andrew. She said in part, "I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me. The powerful and the rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions" (per ABC News).

The scandal and subsequent lawsuit rocked the monarchy, and Queen Elizabeth had to bear the brunt of the experience without her husband by her side. When Andrew reached a settlement with Giuffre in February 2022, some posited that Elizabeth herself ended up paying the unreleased sum, which was rumored to be at least $13.8 million, per The Telegraph. As the outlet reported at the time, if Queen Elizabeth did pay any part of the settlement, she did so out of the Duchy of Lancaster, which is made up of private funds of the monarchy to which the public does not contribute.

The queen began to suffer mobility issues in 2021

Toward the end of 2021, Buckingham Palace began to hint that Queen Elizabeth was contending with health concerns that might be serious. The institution described the queen as having an "episodic mobility issue" and needing the use of a cane from time to time (via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation). She also had to cancel an official royal trip to Northern Ireland on doctor's orders.

Despite these health woes, the queen was still said to be happy and energetic, and even turned down Oldie Magazine's "Oldie of the Year" award. Her assistant private secretary is said to have told the publication, "Her Majesty believes you are as old as you feel. As such, the queen does not believe she meets the relevant criteria to be able to accept and hopes you will find a more worthy recipient."

Queen Elizabeth was briefly hospitalized in November 2021, as Buckingham Palace released a statement that "the queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today, and remains in good spirits" (per The New York Times).

Queen Elizabeth began backing out of events in late 2021

The end of 2021 raised additional concerns about Queen Elizabeth's health. In October 2021, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth had backed out of plans to attend the COP26 UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. The official statement noted that "Her Majesty is disappointed not to attend the reception but will deliver an address to the assembled delegates via a recorded video message" (per the Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

A few weeks later, it was reported that Queen Elizabeth had sprained her back and would be forced to miss the Remembrance Sunday service. This was a major deal at the time, as Remembrance Sunday is an important holiday for the royal family. As the Australian Broadcasting Corporation noted, the fact that the queen would be missing the event was only shared with the public in the hours before it was due to take place. 

She contracted COVID-19 in February 2022

Just when it seemed that Queen Elizabeth was feeling better, she came down with COVID-19 in February 2022. Luckily, Elizabeth only had to contend with a milder form of the virus. Buckingham Palace noted that she experienced cold-like symptoms and that she was able to carry on with most of her work while sick. 

Queen Elizabeth was careful to hold all important meetings virtually, which allowed her to be present without possibly infecting others. At the time, there was a required isolation period of five days following a positive COVID diagnosis, and the Palace reported that Queen Elizabeth had already received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The queen contracted COVID-19 during the same time that King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla came down with the virus (per the Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Several leaders spoke out in support of the queen's health during this time period. London Mayor Sadiq Khan issued a statement that read, "The commitment Her Majesty the Queen has shown to our country continues to be unwavering" (via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

There were rumors that Queen Elizabeth used a wheelchair in March 2022

Perhaps no one was more aware of the optics of having Queen Elizabeth seated alone at Prince Philip's funeral than the queen herself. While it's unclear whether the royal family thought about the matter ahead of time, the subsequent media coverage appeared to rattle the monarchy. As the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported, when it was time for Philip's life celebration service a year later, Queen Elizabeth wanted to make sure no images were put out that made her appear isolated or less than capable.

The service took place amid rumors that the queen had taken to using a wheelchair to help with her mobility. While there shouldn't be any problem or issue with anyone using a wheelchair, it seemed that the queen didn't want photographs of herself in the chair to be released. Her sister Princess Margaret had been photographed in a wheelchair in the months leading up to her death, and royal historian Carolyn Harris told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the queen was hesitant to repeat the same experience. As Harris said, "Her decline was very evident to the public, and so it attracted some public interest and some public sympathy."

Queen Elizabeth gave more duties to King Charles and Prince William in her last months

In yet another sign that Queen Elizabeth had declined since the death of her husband, in the final months of her life, she began to delegate more and more responsibility to her son, King Charles, and her grandson and the heir apparent, Prince William. In May 2022, the BBC reported that the queen would skip the State Opening of Parliament, opting to have King Charles deliver the speech in her stead. 

Up to the beginning of the week, it had been hoped that Elizabeth would attend the event and make the speech herself. In addition to tapping Charles to deliver the speech, Queen Elizabeth enlisted the help of her grandson Prince William to open Parliament. However, the queen's throne at Parliament remained empty for the event, and Charles and William were instead seated in front of the members of Parliament (per the BBC).