Like most other people, the Royal Family’s 2020 Christmas last year was very different – and this year’s festive season will be different again for the likes of the Queen and Kate Middleton for many reasons…
Last year’s Christmas was one like no other – especially for the Royal Family, who were forced to spend the big day apart.
Covid restrictions meant there was no big family gathering at Sandringham, so there was no traditional walk to church on Christmas morning.
Family members spent the festive season in their own homes, with the Queen and Prince Philip opting to stay at Windsor Castle.
This year, there had been high hopes that a big family Christmas would be back on the cards, with Her Majesty said to have been “looking forward” to hosting her relatives.
But just days before Christmas, the Queen decided she would stay at Windsor Castle once again for the festive season rather than travel to Sandringham.
And while restrictions may not be as strict as last year and the Queen won’t be spending it entirely alone, it still means the royals are facing a very different Christmas to the last…
First Christmas without Prince Philip
One of the biggest differences this Christmas is that it will be the first since the death of Prince Philip.
The Queen’s beloved husband died at Windsor Castle in April aged 99, sending the royals into mourning.
AFP via Getty Images)
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And there was one tradition at Christmas that Philip used to be in charge of – meaning it will never be the same again in the future when they are able to return to Sandringham.
Shortly after they arrive at the estate for the festive period in normal years, the royals all lay their gifts out on different tables, so each guest has their own little pile.
The gift swap takes place at 6pm sharp on December 24 after the royals have decorated their Christmas tree and had afternoon tea.
And it was always Philip in charge of overseeing the gift exchange and telling everybody when they were allowed to open their presents.
New members celebrating
This Christmas there are several new members of the family, who will be celebrating the festive season for the first time – although they may not all be able to spend it together.
The first is August Brooksbank, the son of Princess Eugenie, who was born in February, and Lucas Tindall, the third child of Zara and Mike Tindall.
Over in California, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s daughter Lilibet will be celebrating her first Christmas, while in the UK it is also the first Christmas of Sienna Mapelli Mozzi – daughter of Princess Beatrice, who was born in September.
Unlike last year, when the Queen and Philip celebrated Christmas just the two of them privately – Her Majesty is hoping to see family members so she is not alone.
That’s because it is thought family will visit her at Windsor over the festive period with all appropriate guidelines followed – suggesting numbers will be scaled back.
So who will be these visitors?
It has been confirmed that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will be with the Queen on Christmas Day.
It’s thought that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children will visit at some point over the Christmas period.
According to the Daily Mail, Prince William and Kate are understood to be celebrating Christmas itself at Anmer Hall in Norfolk with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
However, relatives that do live very close to Windsor include Prince Andrew, who stays close by at Royal Lodge, so could be likely to visit.
As is Prince Edward, his wife Sophie and their children Lady Louise and Viscount Severn, who are also just a short ride away at Bagshot Park.
However, one of the Queen’s children that will be staying away from Windsor Castle this Christmas is Princess Anne.
That’s because her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence has tested positive for Covid and the pair are now isolating at their home in Gatcombe Park, Gloucestershire.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
When it comes to enjoying her Christmas lunch, the Queen probably won’t be joined by a huge number of family members – unlike last year when she wasn’t joined by any at all.
That’s because according to one royal expert, it is very unlikely that the Queen will be eating alone. At the least, Charles and Camilla will be with her.
Author Katie Nicholl told True Royalty TV’s The Royal Beat: “The idea that the Queen will be on her own for Christmas without Philip, I simply cannot believe the family will allow it to happen.”
And fellow royal expert Richard Kay writes in the Daily Mail : “Make no mistake the disappointment will be crushing. For all the good intentions, the Queen will be bitterly sorry that she will not be celebrating Christmas this year at Sandringham.
“It is not just the fact that, for the second year running, she will be absent from the Norfolk estate which is home to so many of her most treasured Christmas memories, but also that she will be deprived once again of the company of many of her family.”