The Queen and the 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 will not be at Sandringham for the festive period. The Queen usually remains at her estate in Norfolk until after the anniversary of her father’s death. George VI died at Sandringham on 6 February 1952.
Christmas Day is normally marked by a procession of royals walking from Sandringham House to nearby St Mary Magdalene church to attend the morning service, watched by members of the public allowed into the estate grounds.
This year the Queen will not attend a Christmas Day service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, to avoid attracting crowds.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “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.”
A source said: “The Queen and the duke are fortunate to spend Christmas with their family every year. 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.”
With the couple likely to be alone on Christmas Day, it is understood they will see some family members over the festive break, though whether that will be inside the castle or outside in the grounds is not clear. It is not known which family members the couple are in a bubble with.
The Prince of Wales, 72, and Duchess of Cornwall, 73, will spend Christmas Day at their Highgrove home in Gloucestershire. They are expected to see the Queen, 94, and Philip, 99, at some point. The duchess also plans to see her family over the festive period.
Prince Andrew, 60, and Princess Eugenie, 30, who both live at Windsor, may also be candidates to visit.
The Queen and the duke have been staying at Windsor Castle during lockdown, where they have been cared for by a reduced household of staff, nicknamed HMS Bubble. Up to three households will be permitted to bubble together from 23-27 December under government regulations.