The ways the Queen could spend Christmas as Sandringham celebration hangs in the balance


The Queen is said to be making a decision in the next 48 hours on whether to cancel or alter her Christmas plans due to surging Covid rates. Here we look at the options Her Majesty might be facing for spending the festive period

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With Covid rates soaring and tougher restrictions possibly being brought in before December 25, many people’s Christmas plans hang in the balance – including the Queen’s.

It is understood Her Majesty is determined to celebrate the festive season with her family at Sandringham as has been tradition for many years.

But due to spiralling Covid cases and the spread of the Omicron variant, the monarch may have to alter or cancel her plans completely.

She is believed to be making a final decision about where and how to spend Christmas in the next 48 hours and is awaiting advice from her senior aides who are in regular contact with government officials.

The Queen’s Christmas plans still remain uncertain
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Buckingham Palace last night said her plans are still under discussion – but what options does the Queen have this festive season?

Go ahead as planned?

The Queen had to spend last Christmas away from her loved ones, except Prince Philip, at Windsor Castle due to lockdown.

Her beloved husband Philip died in April aged 99, and this year marks her Christmas without him by her side.

The royals leave church on Christmas Day at Sandringham in 2017
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Therefore, the Queen was said to be looking forward to hosting a big family get-together at the traditional venue of Sandringham. But those plans look to be now in the balance.

Her Majesty has already cancelled her pre-Christmas lunch for extended family and now attention has turned to the big day itself.

Of course, if no more restrictions are implemented and the family feels comfortable, they could all go ahead with their Christmas as planned.

If this is the case, the Queen will reportedly fly by helicopter to Norfolk on Wednesday, rather than take the train, and according to the Daily Mail, staff are already working to prepare the rooms in anticipation that she will be joined by her family.

The Queen reportedly skipped going to church yesterday
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It was reported last week that senior ­royals agreed to reduce all but essential contacts before Christmas in a bid to save the celebration.

This means Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William and Kate, Princess Anne, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie have cancelled any pre-Christmas plans to ensure they can be with her.

Indeed the Queen herself reportedly skipped church yesterday as a precaution.

However, a source told the Mirror: “The Queen and the rest of the family are mindful the situation is ever-changing and many thousands of families may also be affected.

“If alternative arrangements need to be made, right up to the last minute as per government advice, Her Majesty will lead from the front.”

Scaled-down Sandringham

The Queen with Prince William and Kate
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If restrictions are brought in, depending on what they are, the Queen could still go to Sandringham, but hold a scaled-back celebration.

This could see a reduction in the number of family members travelling to the estate and some activities cancelled.

However, one Sandringham Christmas tradition that almost certainly won’t be going ahead is the traditional walkabout after the royals’ church service.

Several hundred people usually travel to Sandringham for the royal walkabout, some coming from abroad. Queues often start to form around 2am.

Well-wishers hope to offer Her Majesty their Christmas greetings, and vie for the chance to shake hands with her family, including Prince Charles and Camilla and William and Kate.

The Mirror reported yesterday that the monarch will be advised to close the gates to her private grounds, where thousands of royal watchers normally gather to greet her and her family.

The royals walk to church on Christmas morning on 2019
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Visitors may still be allowed on the Sandringham estate, but sources say the famous footpath will be locked down.

Staff say they “fully expect” public access to be denied on Christmas Day to protect royals and members of the public alike from the threat of Covid.

A source said: “Of course everyone would love everything back to normal – but the situation is anything but.”

Remain at Windsor

If the trip to Sandringham proves a no-go, an alternative plan being examined is for the Queen and Royal Family to spend Christmas at Windsor Castle, where she has been for most of the pandemic.

However, the royals are hoping if there are any more restrictions, it won’t be a repeat of last year where Her Majesty spent the season alone with Philip.

Instead, they hope that even if she stays at Windsor, they can at least be with her so she doesn’t spend Christmas alone.

A source said: “The Queen believes we are all in this together and we should all abide by the public health guidelines to keep each other safe.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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