Over the summer, Queen Elizabeth pretended like the UK wasn’t in the middle of a deadly pandemic, and she forced her staff and her husband to travel to Scotland for their annual Balmoral holiday like usual. There was a lot of grumbling from the Balmoral staff too, because they had to be under a strict “HMS Bubble” isolation protocol, and even with all of that, it was apparently the worst Balmoral summer ever because all of the activities were cancelled because… you know, the pandemic. Even Prince Philip hated the entire trip and so they left Balmoral early and spent some time at Wood Farm, then they returned to Windsor Castle, which is where the Queen has been isolating since March.
Soon after the Balmoral debacle was over, the conversation began about the Queen’s Christmas plans. There was a scheme to allow the Queen to go to Sandringham like always for Christmas, but that scheme would have involved her staff isolating for four weeks at a time, which would have meant that dozens of staffers would not have been able to see THEIR families for Christmas. The staff was in revolt, and the Queen was said to be “furious.” Since then, there’s been a lot of talk about what will and will not be allowed and who the Queen will see over the holiday. Now there’s a confirmation as to the Queen’s Christmas plans: she and Philip will stay at Windsor Castle.
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.
So much for the Boxing Day hunt at Sandringham! Too bad. It sounds like Liz’s staff finally got through to her that she couldn’t just keep carrying on like normal during the pandemic, that she had to be reasonable, especially about what she was demanding from her staff. Plus, she might actually ENJOY a looser, less German Christmas. There won’t be so many costume changes and day-drinking and she’ll probably get to spend time with her faves – Prince Andrew and the Countess of Wessex – anyway. Charles and Camilla will probably enjoy having a rare Christmas at Highgrove too.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Buckingham Palace.