Queen Elizabeth Spotted out for a Drive on 96th Birthday

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 96th birthday with a quaint drive on Thursday, April 21. The monarch traveled from her home, Windsor Castle in London, England, to her Sandringham estate about 110 miles north in Norfolk on Wednesday. The following day she was photographed in the passenger seat of her car, enjoying the scenery and likely reflecting.

The queen turned 96 this week and casually eschewed concerns about her age and her health in the process. The longest-reigning monarch in England's history has survived COVID-19 and is apparently doing just fine. Photos from her birthday drive show her wearing bright pink lipstick, sunglasses and stud earrings – which local reporters dubbed her "off-duty look." They also pointed out that Sandringham estate is likely an emotional place for the queen to visit.

Queen Elizabeth was married to Prince Philip 74 years before he passed away in April of 2021, less than two weeks before the queen's birthday. Prince Philip reportedly spent much of his time at the Sandringham estate – a five-bedroom Wood Farm home far from the auspices of Buckingham Palace. The home was reportedly modified in later years to make it easier for the ailing prince to navigate on his own.

Prince Philip's hobbies included carriage-driving and painting, but the queen clearly prefers a more modern approach to recreational travel. Still, sources close to her told PEOPLE that she appreciates the seclusion of the estate for the same reason. A former staffer said: "She doesn't have to be monarch there. She can be Elizabeth rather than the Queen."

Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne for 70 years as of this year, making her the longest-reigning monarch by a long shot. She was crowned in 1953 following the death of King George VI in 1952. She then oversaw decades of intense transition for the United Kingdom, which at the time was transforming from the "British Empire" into the "Commonwealth of Nations." She supported that transition, including acts of decolonization which eventually got the U.K. admitted to the "European Community" in 1973.


The queen's life and her work have become more commonly understood in the U.S. in recent years thanks to the Netflix original series The Crown, among other media depictions. However, her current feelings remain as mysterious as ever since the queen does not give interviews and avoids the media. Her 96th birthday was no exception.