Queen says she is in 'period of great sadness' but 'deeply touched' by tributes to Prince Philip

Watch: Queen's birthday to be private and low-key

The Queen has said she is in a period of "great sadness" as she shared a message of thanks on behalf of her family while she spends her birthday mourning her husband.

The Queen, who turns 95 on Wednesday, said she has been "deeply touched" by the messages and tributes she has been sent following the recent death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

She said: "I have, on the occasion of my 95th birthday today, received many messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate.

"While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world.

"My family and I would like to thank you all for the support and kindness shown to us in recent days. We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life."

Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat for the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Berkshire. Picture date: Saturday April 17, 2021.
The Queen after taking her seat for the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh on Saturday. (PA Images)

The Queen has often spent her birthday privately, and this year is said to be expecting visits from some of her family members, who will be able to spend time with her outside under current lockdown rules.

She may also take her new dogs, Fergus and Muick, for a walk.

The Queen is still officially in royal mourning until Thursday, which means she is carrying out limited engagements.

Her family members have been continuing with some of their visits and engagements.

Watch: The most powerful images from Prince Philip's funeral

Read more: Royal Family goes back to work amid mourning period for Prince Philip

Any correspondence from the palace during royal mourning comes on black-edged paper, and family members wear mourning bands and dark clothing when on engagements.

Earlier on Wednesday a sombre message was sent from Royal Family social media accounts that did not wish the Queen a happy birthday but simply noted the occasion.

While the accounts for her family, like Clarence House and Kensington Royal, which represent Prince Charles and Prince William respectively, usually add their own messages on birthdays, they have opted to simply share posts from the Royal Family accounts.

The Queen was seen for the first time since the death of her husband on Saturday as she led her family in mourning at his funeral.

RETRANSMITTING AMENDING EMBARGO TIME TO 2200 FRIDAY APRIL 16 MANDATORY CREDIT: The Countess of Wessex. Not for use after December 31, 2021. NEWS EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE (including any use in merchandising, advertising or any other non-editorial use including, for example, calendars, books and supplements). This photograph is provided to you strictly on condition that you will make no charge for the supply, release or publication of it and that these conditions and restrictions will apply (and that you will pass these on) to any organisation to whom you supply it. The photograph must not be digitally enhanced, manipulated or modified in any manner or form and must include all of the individuals in the photograph when published. The photograph shall not be used after 31st December 2021, without prior permission from Buckingham Palace. Any questions relating to the use of the photograph should be first referred to Buckingham Palace before publication. Handout image released by Buckingham Palace on 16/04/21 of a personal photograph of the Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at the top of the Coyles of Muick, taken by The Countess of Wessex in 2003. Issue date: Friday April 16, 2021.
A personal photograph of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the top of the Coyles of Muick, taken by the Countess of Wessex in 2003, was shared before the funeral. (Countess of Wessex)

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There were just 30 guests, because of coronavirus restrictions, but all their children and grandchildren were able to be at the service in St George's Chapel, in Windsor Castle.

The Queen and Philip had been able to spend more time together in his final year as they were locked down in Windsor Castle. Previously he had been living at Wood Farm in Sandringham, after he retired in 2017 from royal duties.

Tributes poured in from around the world after the death of Philip on 9 April, and thousands of people left flowers, gifts and notes at royal palaces in Windsor and London.

Philip was 99 and had spent four weeks in hospitals in February and March, where he was treated for an infection and then a pre-existing heart condition.