Why everything changed for the Queen and the royal family the day Prince Philip died

''The Queen is struggling without her best friend.''
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It was late on a Friday evening when news broke in Australia that Prince Philip, husband to the Queen, was dead.

The announcement from Buckingham Palace sent news outlets and social media into overdrive, and even as the headlines hit the internet, something was shifting irreversibly.

For almost 20 years, not one senior member of the royal family has passed away, but in that instant everything changed.

The royal couple in their final years together, and their first as husband and wife.

(Image: Getty)

Before the Duke of Edinburgh’s death on April 9, 2021, the last major royal to pass was Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, who died on March 30, 2002, just over a month after Princess Margaret, who passed on February 9 that same year.

Yet after that double-whammy of royal deaths, the monarchy and royal watchers around the world enjoyed almost two decades unmarred by the passing of any key players in “the firm”.

For almost 20 years, no one had to think about the fact that one day the Queen – and the people around her – would die.

When Philip passed it left a huge hole in the monarchy and the lives of its members, but it also changed the way Australians viewed the royals.

Though just 14 per cent of The Weekly’s audience said his passing affected their perception of the royal family itself, an incredible 67 per cent said it had an impact on their feelings about the Queen.

Specifically, Philip’s death made them worry for the ageing monarch and how she would carry on without her husband of more than 70 years.

Now, one year since his passing, we’ve watched Her Majesty fight off COVID-19, be hospitalised for an undisclosed illness and miss all manner of major events as she prioritises her health and comfort.

In October 2021 she cancelled a slew of appearances on doctors orders, Buckingham Palace announcing: “The Queen has reluctantly accepted medical advice to rest for the next few days.”

The Queen sits alone at Prince Philip’s 2021 funeral due to COVID regulations.

(Image: Getty)

Soon after, a second statement was released reading: “Following on from their recent advice that the Queen should rest for a few days, Her Majesty’s doctors have advised that she should continue to rest for at least the next two weeks.”

In the weeks and months that followed, the Queen would cancel her appearances at key annual events including the annual Remembrance Day Service and the 2022 Commonwealth Day Service.

While palace officials have assured the public Her Majesty is in good health, recent appearances have shown her to be using a walking stick – one believed to have belonged to Philip – and tiring quickly.

“Well, as you can see, I can’t move,” she quipped at a Windsor Castle reception in February 2022.

WATCH: The Queen is looking frail after a series of health scares. Story continues after video.

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In fact, one of the only major events she has attended in the last 12 months was a Thanksgiving Service honouring her late husband on March 29, which was limited to 45 minutes for her comfort.

“She’s looking much more frail,” one Weekly reader wrote after the appearance, another adding they were “sad for our Queen.”

“She is struggling without her partner and best friend,” said a third.

Others noted that despite her melancholy, the Queen is a “trooper” and “fantastic” and has carried on to the best of her ability since Philip’s death.

Her Majesty has worked hard to carry on in Philip’s absence.

(Image: Getty)

But the sad reality is that Her Majesty’s reign, though historic, will be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

It was a truth the world was forced to recognise the day Philip died in 2021 and one that will continue to haunt every one of the Queen’s health updates in the months and years to come.

“It is the Queen that makes the royal family. Things will change once she passes,” a Weekly reader confessed.

That inevitable change is on the monarch’s mind as well; in early February she announced her wish that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall be known as Queen Consort when Prince Charles takes the throne.

WATCH: The royal family attend memorial service for Prince Philip. Story continues after video.

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“When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service,” Her Majesty said.

The announcement not only put 17 years of speculation about Camilla’s future role in the monarchy to bed, it also publicly acknowledged that the Queen is – at least in some capacity – preparing for a future in which the royal family is led by son Charles. A future without her.

On the anniversary of Philip’s passing, royal watchers will be wishing the Queen well and sharing their condolences.

But if the past year is anything to go by, they will also be silently accepting that everything changed the day he died and, one day soon, Her Majesty will sadly join him. We only hope that day doesn’t come too soon.

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