The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are to leave Windsor Castle and head to Scotland for their summer break at Balmoral, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.
The monarch and Philip will be going ahead with their annual stay in the Highlands after spending the last four months at their Berkshire residence during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
It is the first time the 94-year-old Queen and Philip have travelled away from Windsor since relocating from Buckingham Palace and the Sandringham estate on March 19.
Buckingham Palace said the royal pair will make the 500-mile journey north in early August and take up residence at Balmoral.
But the palace declined to give an exact date of departure.
A palace spokesman said: “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh plan to move to Balmoral Castle in early August to commence their annual summer stay.
“All arrangements will be in line with the relevant guidelines and advice.”
The head of state and Philip, 99, have been staying at Windsor with a reduced household – dubbed HMS Bubble – for their safety for the past 18 weeks.
The Queen had long been expected to go ahead with her visit – one of her favourite parts of the year – if it proved safe and logistically possible.
The royal couple, who have been married for more than 72 years, are expected to remain in Scotland through August and September.
The Palace declined to comment on whether other members of the royal family would be travelling there to spend some socially distanced time with the monarch and her consort.
The trip is dependent on relevant guidelines and advice remaining the same.
Scottish Government guidance, published on July 3, states: “You can travel to your second home and stay there alone or with other members of your household.”
It adds: “Activities relating to second homes in Scotland are bound by Scots law and guidance, irrespective of where you are travelling from.”
The news was confirmed after Philip carried out a rare official public engagement at Windsor on Wednesday.
The Duke of Edinburgh, 99, during a rare official public engagement at Windsor Castle as he transferred his role as Colonel-in-Chief of @RiflesRegiment to his daughter-in-law the Duchess of Cornwall pic.twitter.com/3EwZ3wz15W— PA Royal Reporters (@PARoyal) July 22, 2020
The duke, who retired in 2017, attended a military handover ceremony as he transferred his role as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles to the Duchess of Cornwall, who was nearly 100 miles away at Highgrove in Gloucestershire.
Visitors are also about to return to Windsor when the Queen’s official residences open up to tourists once again on Thursday.
The Queen has served as a symbol of national stability during the pandemic, delivering two rare televised addresses to the nation just weeks apart.
She has also celebrated her own birthday, Philip turning 99 and attended her granddaughter Princess Beatrice’s secret wedding.
As the royals adapted to online appearances, the monarch took part in her first official video conference call as part of her public duties, speaking to carers with the Princess Royal on June 4.
She has also been holding her Privy Council meetings by video link and her weekly audiences with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the phone.
On July, 17, she knighted Captain Sir Tom Moore in a special outdoor ceremony at the castle to honour the 100-year-old fundraising hero in what was her first face-to-face royal engagement with the public since March.
The monarch will still continue with her official duties as sovereign while at Balmoral.
Every day, she deals with her red boxes of state papers, and also holds regular telephone audiences.
Among the sites on Royal Deeside will be the white heather about to bloom on Lochnagar – a mountain on the Balmoral estate.
Some white heather about to bloom high up on Lochnagar yesterday. pic.twitter.com/PIvjilVUKW— balmoralcastle.com (@Balmoral_Castle) July 22, 2020
But in June, rangers revealed how they had found discarded waste and wipes near trails on the estate after people had used the grounds as a wild toilet.
Staff at the 50,000 acre site posted pictures of the mess on paths.
Public toilets at the site had been closed, and rangers tweeted: “Disappointed to see so many wipes discarded on the Estate today. Next to paths and monuments.”