For the first time in more than 30 years, the Queen and Prince Philip won’t do the big, traditional royal Christmas at Sandringham.
The UK’s second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has seen the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh retreat to Windsor Castle, where they also waited out the first national lockdown.
They are trying to lead by example in encouraging the rest of the country to stay home and stamp out the virus over the festive period.
The Queen, 94, and Prince Philip, 99, usually spend the Christmas and New Year’s period at Sandringham, and the Queen would traditionally attend a church service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the estate on December 25.
Every Christmas Day since 1988 has been spent at Sandringham House in Norfolk. Previously it was Windsor Castle. So it seems a return to the tradition last observed in 1987 🏰 🎄
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) December 1, 2020
Instead, they’ll be Zooming the family over Christmas pudding.
The Queen will likely attend a worship service via Zoom as well. Even though places of worship are allowed to operate under the UK’s restrictions, the Queen doesn’t want her presence to cause mass crowds.
A Palace spokesman added: “Having considered all the appropriate advice, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor.”
Prince William and Kate Middleton could well replicate their previous Christmas plans, and visit Kate’s parents in Berkshire for Christmas.
It’s believed Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles will spend the festive period at Highgrove in Gloucestershire, as well as visiting the Duchess’s family.
In the US, Harry and Meghan are preparing to celebrate their first Christmas abroad, in their new home in Santa Barbara.
There are rumours Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland might make the trip from Los Angeles to join them.
A royal source told The Mirror the Queen is “acutely aware” of the need for safety and caution in the pandemic.
“The Queen and The Duke are fortunate to spend Christmas with their family every year,” the source said.
“They understand that their family will have competing demands over the Christmas period and are content to have a quiet festive season this year.
“Like everyone they hope things will get back to normal in 2021.”
In the UK, families are able to create three-household bubbles to socialise over the Christmas period, and it’s possible the Queen and the Duke will do some socially distanced mingling.
They do, after all, have some family nearby.
Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson live at Royal Lodge on the Windsor Estate – although it’s rumoured the Queen is not very fond of Prince Andrew given his messy alignment with the late Jeffrey Epstein.
Prince Andrew and Fergie’s daughter Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank have moved into Frogmore Cottage, also on the estate – Harry and Meghan’s royal home.