Queen Elizabeth II paid a subtle nod to her late husband Prince Philip as she attended a gathering marking 70 years of her reign as the monarch of the United Kingdom.

The 95-year-old, who marked the anniversary on Sunday, February 6, hosted a tea party at Sandringham on Saturday. At the gathering, she was spotted carrying a wooden walking stick that belonged to her husband who passed away at the age of 99 in April last year.

The monarch was seen using a walking stick on a few occasions when she was facing health issues last year, but she walked mostly unaided during her recent appearance. It is believed that she must have taken to using the stick during her recent stay at Sandringham's Wood Farm, which served as a retirement home for the Duke of Edinburgh after he quit royal duties in 2017.

Prince Philip's biographer Gyles Brandreth told The Telegraph: "I recognised the stick instantly as it was always kept in a pot by the front door. It was the Duke's stick, and it is very touching that the Queen has started using it."

The last time Prince Philip was publicly seen using the stick was in 2013, when he had returned to royal duties after undergoing abdominal surgery. The distinctive stick is reportedly longer than standard walking sticks and features a curved handle carved from a horn.

The Queen carried the stick in her hand as she met estate workers, volunteers, and members of the local Women's Institute during the tea party. It was her first public engagement in more than three months.

The monarch usually stays at Sandringham estate's main house during her visits there, but this time she decided to stay at her late husband's retirement home. It was reported that she marked her Accession Day, which also marked the 70th anniversary of her father King George VI's death, in quiet reflection.

The Queen also marked the 20th death anniversary of her only sibling Princess Margaret on Thursday, February 9. The Queen Mother also died just weeks later on March 30 that year. Royal expert Jennie Bond said, "These are events that she needs to recognise, mark and reflect on in privacy if she can. I think they will be days of quiet reflection about very much loved members of her family."

His Royal Highness Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth II and her late husband Prince Philip