Queen shares candid photograph beaming in the sun with husband Prince Philip on Scottish hills day before duke's funeral

THE QUEEN has shared a candid photograph of herself and Prince Philip on the Scottish Highlands the day before his funeral.

Taken by Prince Edward's wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex in 2003, the image shows the royal couple smiling while relaxing in the sunshine.

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The Queen released the picture of the duke at the top of the Coyles of Muick on the eve of his funeral.

Looking completely at ease and smiling warmly, Philip and the Queen are seen appearing relaxed on the grass at the beauty spot near the town of Ballater in Aberdeenshire.

The duke lies back on a rug, propping himself up on his left elbow and has jauntily placed his hat on his right knee.

Beaming at the Countess of Wessex the Queen, dressed in a tartan skirt, blouse and cardigan and a string of pearls also sits on a rug.

With the sun blazing down the picture is likely taken when the couple were enjoying their traditional summer break at the Queen's nearby private estate of Balmoral.

The image reflects the private face of the royal couple and gives an insight into how the Queen will remember her husband of 73 years after Philip died aged 99 last week.

Coyles of Muick stands above the entrance to Glen Muick and rewards walkers with an uninterrupted view of the mountain of Lochnagar.

The area is clearly a favourite spot for the Queen as she has named a corgi puppy, recently gifted to the monarch, Muick and it has a dorgi puppy playmate called Fergus – another Scottish name.

The area has been painted by the Prince of Wales whose Scottish summer retreat of Birkhall is close to the area where the Queen and Philip were photographed.

It comes as:

  • Queen receives a message of condolence from Canadian PM Justin Trudeau
  • Royal Family pay heartwarming tribute to Prince Philip as they reveal the 'unique touches' duke planned for funeral
  • Mike Tindall shares a sweet photo of Prince Philip with daughter Mia
  • Meghan and Harry's pals Omid Scobie and Gayle King to lead US coverage of Philip's funeral
  • Queen takes new puppies for a walk at Frogmore where Harry is staying the night before Philip's funeral

Since the Duke of Edinburgh's passing, Sophie Wessex has become the Queen's rock.

It was the Countess of Wessex who explained what was rightly too painful for Her Majesty to convey just 48 hours after the death of her beloved husband.

Watched by her slightly startled husband Edward, she said: “It was so gentle, like someone took him by the hand, and then he went. Very peaceful, which is what you want for somebody, isn’t it?”

The day before, the 56-year-old Countess lowered her Range Rover’s window to say the Queen had been “Thinking of others before herself, she’s amazing”.

What gave her response added poignancy was that she had clearly shed some tears.

That Sophie, whose husband is 12th in line to the throne, appeared to be leading the family’s public response, was certainly no shock to those in the royal inner circle.

Her role in this devastating affair simply re-emphasised what is now accepted at court, that the unassuming daughter of a tyre company executive is now the closest to the Queen.

Or as one courtier puts it: “If you’re asking who is Her Majesty’s favourite child, it’s none of them, it’s her daughter-in-law.”

The pair are thought to share a "special bond" – almost like mother and daughter.

Sources told The Mirror: "The Countess has been a tremendous source of comfort to the Queen.

"The Queen is very practical in making sure everyone is okay and despite her tremendous grief at the passing she is no different.

"Sophie cherishes her relationship with the Queen and not only appreciates her guidance and wisdom throughout her own life, she is very protective of her.

"Their bond is very like a mother and daughter and the feeling of love and respect is quite mutual. It is very special."

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