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Queen on duty with virtual audiences – three weeks away from turning 96

The head of state welcomed the Ambassador of Ecuador and the Ambassador of Nepal.

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The Queen appears on a screen via videolink, during a virtual audience to receive the Ambassador from the Republic of Ecuador (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The Queen appears on a screen via videolink, during a virtual audience to receive the Ambassador from the Republic of Ecuador (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The Queen appears on a screen via videolink, during a virtual audience to receive the Ambassador from the Republic of Ecuador (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The Queen has held virtual audiences at Windsor as she kept busy with official engagements despite being only three weeks away from her 96th birthday.

She welcomed the Ambassador of Ecuador and the Ambassador of Nepal via video link.

The same day, she issued a message of thanks to those across the country who have planted more than a million trees for her Jubilee, saying she was “deeply touched” by the support for the Queen’s Green Canopy.

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The Ambassador of Nepal, Gyan Chandra Acharya, presents his credentials to the Queen (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The Ambassador of Nepal, Gyan Chandra Acharya, presents his credentials to the Queen (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

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The Ambassador of Nepal, Gyan Chandra Acharya, presents his credentials to the Queen (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The monarch has had a run of duties this week, attending the memorial service for her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh on Tuesday.

The poignant service saw the Queen, walking slowly with a stick, on her first official engagement outside of a royal residence in nearly six months.

A day later, she presented honours to Philip’s most loyal and trusted aides at special private face-to-face investitures in Windsor Castle.

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The Queen being accompanied by the Duke of York (Richard Pohle/The Times/PA)

The Queen being accompanied by the Duke of York (Richard Pohle/The Times/PA)

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The Queen being accompanied by the Duke of York (Richard Pohle/The Times/PA)

She invested the duke’s long-serving private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell with the insignia of a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO).

Brig Miller-Bakewell, who was also Philip’s treasurer, was the duke’s right-hand man for 11 years, taking on the role in 2010.

He along with other devoted staff were named last June as recipients of the honours in recognition of their service to the duke as part of a special set of Demise awards, announced on what would have been Philip’s 100th birthday.

Nine months on, the Queen granted them an increasingly rare face-to-face investiture, where she is likely to have personally thanked them for their support in Philip’s day-to-day life.

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Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell (third from left) in the funeral procession (Hannah McKay/PA)

Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell (third from left) in the funeral procession (Hannah McKay/PA)

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Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell (third from left) in the funeral procession (Hannah McKay/PA)

Others received by the Queen on Wednesday included the duke’s correspondence secretary Suzy Lethbridge, his assistant private secretary Rachel Loryman and his archivist and librarian Alexandra McCreery, who were all made Lieutenants of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO), the Court Circular showed.

Philip’s valet David Berwick, who worked for the Queen’s consort for 46 years – joining his staff in 1975 – received his insignia of a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO).

Another trusted valet Stephen Niedojadlo was also received and made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order.

Brig Miller-Bakewell attended the duke’s service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday, and the others are likely to have been invited.

He and Mr Berwick processed behind Philip’s coffin as it was ferried through the grounds of Windsor Castle on a Land Rover hearse at his funeral almost a year ago.

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Philip’s service of thanksgiving was held nearly a year after his death (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Philip’s service of thanksgiving was held nearly a year after his death (Adrian Dennis/PA)

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Philip’s service of thanksgiving was held nearly a year after his death (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Philip’s page William Henderson, who also joined the funeral procession, was invested with his LVO insignia last July.

Honours in the Royal Victorian Order are in the Queen’s gift.

The monarch, who reached her Platinum Jubilee in February, is set to celebrate her 96th birthday on April 21.

She also held her weekly telephone audience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday evening.

Other engagements were left to younger members of her family on Thursday with the Earl of Wessex presenting Colours to the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, on behalf of his mother, in the quadrangle at Windsor.

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The Earl of Wessex presenting new colours to the Royal Gibraltar Regiment during a ceremony at Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Earl of Wessex presenting new colours to the Royal Gibraltar Regiment during a ceremony at Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons/PA)

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The Earl of Wessex presenting new colours to the Royal Gibraltar Regiment during a ceremony at Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons/PA)

Edward told the troops: “This is your Sovereign’s personal recognition of your professionalism, skill, courage and unique contribution to our nation’s defence.”

He added: “On behalf of Her Majesty, I hand over these colours in the confidence that you will guard them well. That they will be symbols of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment’s enduring spirit and devotion to duty.

“That it will inspire you in the face of uncertainties. That as an emblem of your achievements it will be an embodiment of your Regiment’s traditions, heritage and ethos.

“But most importantly, I give it into your care as a token of Her Majesty’s admiration and trust in each and every one of you and in the regiment in which you serve.”

Three cheers were given for the Queen, with the troops raising their white helmets in her honour, during the ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Countess of Wessex planted a tree at Buckingham Palace to signal the halfway point of the Queen’s Green Canopy planting initiative for the Jubilee.

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The Countess of Wessex joins year four pupils from Grange Park Primary School in Shropshire, to plant a Jubilee tree (Toby Melville/PA)

The Countess of Wessex joins year four pupils from Grange Park Primary School in Shropshire, to plant a Jubilee tree (Toby Melville/PA)

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The Countess of Wessex joins year four pupils from Grange Park Primary School in Shropshire, to plant a Jubilee tree (Toby Melville/PA)

In the abbey earlier in the week, the Queen, who has confessed to mobility issues, moved gingerly, holding onto the Duke of York’s elbow for support and using her stick as she arrived to join the congregation of 1,800.

Allowing Andrew to chaperon her was a shock move after the duke, who had been banished from royal public life, paid a multimillion-pound out-of-court settlement in a civil sexual assault case just a few weeks before.

It was seen as the monarch signalling her support for her second son, but has provoked reports that the Queen overruled the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge to give Andrew the key role.

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