Queen's Sandringham Christmas plans 'continue to be under review'

Queen’s Sandringham Christmas ‘continues to be under review’ as senior royals decide to scale back their festive plans to ensure they can be with Her Majesty on 25 December, sources claim

  • Queen’s plans to spend Christmas in Sandringham ‘continue to be under review’
  • Senior royals have ‘cancelled festive plans’ to ensure they can be with monarch
  • Queen’s Christmas lunch was scheduled to held on Tuesday at Windsor Castle
  • Some 50 or so guests expected to attend including Prince Charles and Camilla
  • However it was revealed yesterday that the monarch has cancelled her meal 
  • Monarch called off lunch as a ‘precaution’ to try to save loved ones festive plans 
  • This year marks the Queen’s first Christmas since her husband Philip’s death  

The Queen’s Sandringham Christmas ‘continues to be under review’ and senior royals have agreed to cancel their festive plans in the run-up to December 25th to ensure they can be with the monarch for it, sources have claimed.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Charles and Camilla, Princess Anne, Prince Edward and wife Sophie have agreed to reduce all but essential contacts ahead of the big day, according to The Mirror.

Their decision comes after the Queen, 95, cancelled her annual Royal Family Christmas lunch next Tuesday ‘with regret’ as a ‘precaution’ to try to save her loved ones’ festive plans, amid fears over the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid variant. 

Her Majesty was planning to welcome 50 or so relatives, including Prince Charles and Camilla, to the event at Windsor Castle next week, and the decision to axe the party was made because too many people’s Christmas arrangements were at risk if it went ahead.

It is MailOnline’s understanding that there are no immediate plans for staff to form a Covid bubble with the Queen as they did last year, because the situation is constantly changing.

However, insiders have suggested that the monarch will continue staying at Windsor over the Christmas period rather than going to Sandringham because she already has a secure set up. 

The Queen’s (pictured this week) Sandringham trip ‘continues to be under review’ and senior royals have agreed to cancel their festive plans in the run-up to December 25th to ensure they can be with the monarch on Christmas Day, sources have claimed

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (pictured with Princess Charlotte and Prince George at Sandringham on December 25, 2019), Prince Charles and Camilla, Princess Anne, Prince Edward and wife Sophie have agreed to reduce all but essential contacts ahead of the big day, according to The Mirror

One day after the festive lunch, the Queen was due to travel by helicopter to Sandringham in Norfolk, where she hopes to spend Christmas day. 

However, the Queen ‘with regret’ cancelled her family lunch as a ‘precautionary’ measure, feeling that too many people’s Christmas arrangements were at risk if it went ahead. 

Royal sources said ‘there is a belief that it is the right thing to do for all concerned.’ 

Dickie Arbiter, the Queen’s former press secretary, told The Sun: ‘The luncheon is very important to the Queen because it is the one time of the year when the whole extended family gets together.

‘Having cancelled this lunch I’d be very surprised if she decamped and took her family to Sandringham. Windsor has been a secure bubble since the start of the pandemic.

‘The Queen leads by example and expects the rest of the family to follow suit. In this very infectious time it is better to be safe than sorry.’

It marks the second year the Queen has cancelled the luncheon, usually held at Buckingham Palace. Last year she called off the lunch when tougher restrictions were brought in amid the surge of the Delta Covid strain. 

The decision came as millions of Britons axed their festive plans so they can see family on Christmas Day after Boris Johnson and Chris Whitty triggered a ‘tsunamis of cancellations’ for pubs and restaurants by urging the country only to socialise if necessary – and not in large groups or with strangers. 

Their decision comes after the Queen (pictured with several senior royals in March 2020), 95, cancelled her annual Royal Family Christmas lunch on Tuesday ‘with regret’ as a ‘precaution’ to try to save her loved ones’ festive plans, amid fears over the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid variant

The annual Christmas lunch was due to be held at Windsor Castle (pictured) this year, instead of the usual Buckingham Palace 

Elsewhere, royal sources told the Mirror that while there is ‘obvious ­uncertainty as to how Christmas will look exactly’, the senior royals are determined to be by the Queen’s side.

They said one alternative is spending Christmas at her Windsor Castle home, where she has stayed for most of the pandemic.

Family members invited will reportedly have to take Covid tests on the days leading up to any celebrations and on Christmas Day.

A royal source said: ‘In terms of plans for Christmas, everything is up in the air. Senior members of the family have spoken with each other and cut back on all but ­essential contacts in public so they are ready to travel to be with the Queen wherever Christmas can take place.

‘As she has acted throughout the pandemic, the Queen will do what she feels is right in the current circumstances which are ever changing.’

Meanwhile, sources close to the Queen told Vanity Fair that she is still hopeful that a family Christmas at Sandringham will go ahead, even if it’s with fewer guests.

‘The intention is to go to Sandringham for a family Christmas, but that might look a bit different and it may well be a much smaller family affair,’ the royal source said. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, Londo

Prince Charles and Camilla will be going to Sandringham on Christmas Eve while Prince William and Kate are expected on December 25th, alongside the Wessexes, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew and his daughters.

This year’s annual Christmas lunch in Windsor would have seen the family brought together in the largest reunion since the Duke of Edinburgh’s death in April. 

While three of her four new grandchildren – August, Lucas and Siena – had been expected to attend the lunch, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and their son Archie and newborn Lilibet, also born this year, were remaining in the US.    

The Queen is currently residing in Windsor Castle, where she remains on ‘light duties’ following multiple health scares in recent weeks. 

An ITV film crew recorded the Queen’s Christmas Day address several weeks ago. 

The Mail reported last week that palace aides were also exploring options for the monarch to appear in public in the run up to December 25 to wish the country a very happy Christmas.

Although photographs and videos have been released by Buckingham Palace of the sovereign undertaking in-person and virtual audiences with foreign ambassadors, dignitaries and the Prime Minister, all meetings have taken place behind palace walls.

The hope is that the Queen will be well enough to take part in a short public engagement in the castle grounds. Her appearance will be seen as a ‘small shot of joy’ in difficult times.

‘It won’t be a normal Christmas, but like many families around the country, it will be as normal as it can get,’ a source said.

The Queen was last seen in public at a Windsor Castle reception on October 19. The next day, she cancelled a trip to Northern Ireland and was taken to hospital overnight for undisclosed ‘preliminary tests’. 

She was ordered to rest for several weeks and since then has undertaken a small number of low-key engagements, including recording a video message for the Cop26 summit.

It comes as many people across the country started voluntarily self-isolating in a bid to avoid having to isolate on December 25 if they test positive for Covid.

Prof Whitty said that a rise in Omicron hospitalisations is ‘nailed on’ after cases hit a record high, telling a televised No 10 press briefing: ‘I think that what most people are doing is – and I would think this seems very sensible – is prioritising the social interactions that really matter to them and, to project those ones, de-prioritising ones that matter much less to them.’

And after weeks of refusing to admit Christmas plans could be under threat, Mr Johnson told the country to cut back on Christmas partying and ‘think carefully’ before going out during the festive season.

The Independent SAGE group of scientists and medics called for an immediate 10-day ‘circuit-breaker’ shutdown, with bans on households mixing and the closure of hospitality firms. They accused the Prime Minister of ‘delaying’ from imposing tighter controls and said the time for ’emergency action’ had now come. 

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