The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will spend a quiet Christmas at Windsor Castle due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is the first time in 32 years that the couple is not in Sandringham during the festive period. The Queen usually stays on her Norfolk estate until after the death of her father, George VI, who died there on February 6, 1952.
Christmas Day is normally marked by a procession of royals walking from Sandringham House to the nearby St. Mary Magdalene Church to attend the morning service, watched by members of the public who are allowed to enter the estate.
This year, the Queen will not attend a church service on Christmas Day at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, to avoid crowds.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “After considering all the appropriate advice, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have decided that they will spend Christmas peacefully in Windsor this year.”
A source said: “The Queen and the Duke are fortunate to spend Christmas with their families every year. They understand that their family will have competitive demands during the Christmas season and are happy with a quiet holiday season this year. Like everyone else, they hope that things will return to normal in 2021. “
Since the couple will likely be alone on Christmas Day, it is clear that they will see some of the family members during the festive break, but whether that will be inside the castle or out in the grounds is not clear. It is not known with which family members the couple had a drink.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will spend Christmas Day at their home in Highgrove, Gloucestershire. They are expected to see the Queen, 94 and 99-year-old Duke one day, although it is not known if this will be a socially distant visit outside of the castle grounds. The Duchess will also see her family during the holidays.
Prince Andrew and Princess Eugenie, who both live in Windsor, may also be candidates to visit.
The Queen and Duke stayed at Windsor Castle during the lockdown, where they were taken care of by a limited domestic staff nicknamed HMS Bubble. Government regulations allow a maximum of three households to bubble together from 23 to 27 December.