Queen Elizabeth is breaking a longtime Royal Christmas tradition due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Typically, the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, spend the holiday at her Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. Other members of the Royal Family usually join them for festivities. However, it may not be safe for these types of holiday gatherings this year.
"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 Buckingham Palace spokesperson stated on Tuesday, per PEOPLE. A royal source went on to tell the outlet, "They are fortunate to spend Christmas with their family every year, but they understand that their family will have competing demands over the Christmas period and are content to have a quiet festive season this year." The source added, "Like everyone, their hope is that normality will return in 2021, but they understand that they have competing demands."
The confirmed news comes after it was reported in September that this was likely to be the decision that the queen would make. "The royals are talking about canceling their traditional Christmas this year as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the U.K.," a source told Closer Weekly. "Royal aides are warning her that it's not a good idea." The insider explained that Queen Elizabeth "would love [nothing] more than to see her family reunite" at Sandringham, but Buckingham Palace staff have been concerned over the "high volume of staff" that would have to be added in order to prepare for the royal family Christmas celebrations.
"Plus, the generations of royals that attend," the source went on to say, at the time, adding that even the thought of canceling the Royal Family Christmas is "heartbreaking" for the Queen. It is said to be "one of the few occasions in the year when the family congregates." However, "she's coming up with a plan B," the insider said. This was speculated to be "some sort of smaller gathering with very close family." It is currently unclear if the smaller event may still happen.
While the Queen will be spending her Christmas at home with her husband, her grandson Harry will be spending it in Montecito, California, with his mother-in-law. Following their move to the States, Harry and Meghan Markle will spend their first U.S. Christmas with Markle's mom, Doria Ragland. Their adorable son Archie will, of course, be present as well.