Inside the Queen's low-key Christmas as she cancels special Sandringham tradition

21 December 2021, 07:37

The Queen will be having a scaled-back Christmas this year
The Queen will be having a scaled-back Christmas this year. Picture: Getty
Alice Dear

By Alice Dear

The Queen will be joined by a smaller number of Royal Family members at Windsor Castle over Christmas as she makes the 'personal' decision to cancel the family's trip to her Sandringham Estate.

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The Queen, 95, announced yesterday she was cancelling her original Christmas plans, a decision which "reflects a precautionary approach".

The Royal Family originally expected to travel to the Sandringham Estate for the festive period, a tradition close to the Queen's heart.

However, for the second year in a row now, their plans have been drastically changed due to the pandemic.

Instead, the Queen will celebrate Christmas with a smaller number of family members at Windsor Castle, where she stayed last year with her late husband Prince Philip.

The Queen will have a smaller number of people visiting on Christmas Day
The Queen will have a smaller number of people visiting on Christmas Day. Picture: Getty

According to reports, Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Charles and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall will be among the members of the Royal Family still joining the Monarch for festivities.

While the Sandringham holiday would usually see around 30 members of the family come together, it is thought no more than 12 will join together to mark Christmas 2021.

It is also thought that the celebrations in general will be very scaled back, including less gifts and no games.

Kate Middleton, Prince William and their three children are expected to be among the royals visiting the Queen on Christmas Day
Kate Middleton, Prince William and their three children are expected to be among the royals visiting the Queen on Christmas Day. Picture: Getty

Royal expert Phil Dampier told The Sun: "Obviously it's going to be much smaller and it's going to be similar to last year. Except obviously, the one big difference is that Prince Philip is not going to be there.

"It wouldn't surprise me if Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince Andrew and possible Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex and maybe some others - a small hard core of people - join her for lunch.

"But I think it's more likely to be a dozen people rather than the 30 or so up at Sandringham."

The Queen will hold her Christmas festivities at Windsor Castle instead of Sandringham
The Queen will hold her Christmas festivities at Windsor Castle instead of Sandringham. Picture: Getty

He went on to say that at Windsor Castle, there is probably a "tailor-made bubble" of people who are regularly tested for the virus, and who will be able to cope with a smaller number of people.

Dampier said he "can't believe" that the Queen will be spending Christmas Day on her own completely, as he expects Royals to join her.

The family are believed to attend a church service in private in the morning, which could be held in Windsor Castle's private chapel or at St George's Chapel.

The Queen and her family are then expected to enjoy Christmas lunch at around 1:00pm before they settle down to watch the Queen's speech.

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Dampier said: "I suspect they will have drinks as normal before lunch. Then they tend to sit down for lunch at 1pm - and they don't hang about.

"They get through it in an hour and a half - two hours at most - so that they can then watch her speech at 3pm."

He went on: "Of course they open their presents in the German tradition on Christmas Eve. So I suspect there will be a certain amount of that.

"Again it's going to be very scaled down. And obviously normally there would be lots of children running about and opening up their presents.

"The kids tend to have quite expensive, serious presents and the adults tend to give each other joke-y presents, cheap ones.

"But I think all of that will go out the window. They just won't want people mixing very much. Everything is going to be very low key and very scaled down."

The Queen usually spends the Christmas period at her Sandringham Estate
The Queen usually spends the Christmas period at her Sandringham Estate. Picture: Getty

This change of plans marks the second year in a row that the Queen has been forced to cancel her beloved Sandringham visit.

Last year, when there were restrictions in place, marked the first time in 32 years the Queen had not visited Norfolk for the festive period.