The Queen has decided to stay at Windsor Castle for Christmas this year, it has been announced, instead of travelling to Sandringham.
Her Majesty, 95, will not make it to Norfolk, where she traditionally celebrates the season with her family, staying until February.
Privately, Royals open their Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve, following the German tradition popularised by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria; publicly, they attend church twice on Christmas Day (an early morning service and a more formal one a few hours later) where hundreds of members of the public will gather to greet them.
This is then followed by a festive feast back at Sandringham House, and of course, watching The Queen’s Christmas message at 3pm.
This is the second year in a row that she has missed the trip to Sandringham, where the Royals have spent Christmastime since 1988, but the first year without Prince Philip, who passed away in April.
Buckingham Palace described it as a personal decision, which ‘reflects a precautionary approach’ with regards to Covid. The Queen usually takes a first-class train service from Paddington to King’s Lynn, before heading to her estate some 10 miles away.
She will, however, be visited by family over the festive period. The Duke of York and Princess Eugenie are based in Windsor Great Park, and The Earl and Countess of Wessex are only a short drive away from Windsor Castle, making them the most likely visitors.
It was stressed that all protocols and guidelines for socialising would be followed.
It is expected Elizabeth II will worship privately on Christmas Day; The Queen has the option of St George’s Chapel or the Victorian private chapel inside Upper Ward, where her great-grandson Archie was christened. There is also the private All Saints church, where Princess Beatrice recently married, on the castle estate.
Last week, the Monarch also decided to cancel the annual pre-Christmas lunch for the extended Royal Family, due to concerns about the new Covid variant, Omicron.
It is not known which members of her family will be visiting her at Windsor for Christmas, but a Buckingham Palace spokesman said that ‘all appropriate guidelines’ would be followed.