No Sandringham Christmas for the Queen

The Queen will be spending Christmas at Windsor Castle rather than Sandringham House in Norfolk

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have decided to break with tradition this year and remain at Windsor Castle rather than make the usual planned trip to the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.The Queen has spent the Christmas and new year period in Sandringham every year since 1988.She usually relocates there from London shortly before Christmas Day and stays there until after the date of her accession to the throne in February.

The royal family took up residence at Sandringham 150 years ago Credit: King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council

However, Buckingham Palace has announced that the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a change of plan for the Monarch.

It means the Royal Family will not be able to gather en masse at Sandringham as they usually do for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - when they all attend a service in the morning at St Mary Magdelene Church on the estate.

The royal family usually spend Christmas together in Sandringham - as pictured here in 2017. Credit: PA

The Queen and Prince Philip are spending the second lockdown at Windsor Castle, as they did during the first lockdown in the Spring.The arrangements to keep them safe with a small coterie of staff of a dozen or so was nicknamed HMS Bubble.Those plans will be now be rolled into the Christmas holidays.

The duke was seen in a photograph in November 2020 alongside the Queen, released to mark their 73rd wedding anniversary. Credit: PA

The Royal Family is limited to the same government restrictions as everyone else this year and will only be able to mix with a maximum of two other households for the five day duration over the festive period.

Royal aides say the Queen understands that her family "will have competing demands" this year in order to comply with the UK-wide regulations.Therefore, we are told that she is content to spend it quietly, although she may still see "some members" of her family.The Sandringham stay is normally very important for the Queen as she observes the anniversary of her father death there.He died on the Norfolk estate on 6 February 1952.

Elizabeth with her father King George VI in 1947. Credit: PA Wire

The Queen used to spend Christmas with her family at Windsor but changed those plans after 1987 because the Castle was being re-wired.