How Queen Elizabeth II's Christmas Got Even Quieter Due to New COVID Rules

Queen Elizabeth II's quiet Christmas just got even more lonely after weekly COVID cases around Windsor Castle more than doubled, forcing tough new restrictions.

The 94-year-old monarch is staying with husband Prince Philip and surrounded by staff who isolated prior to forming a support bubble.

However, cases in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have more than doubled in the past week, contributing to the county of Berkshire being placed into the toughest level of restrictions.

Buckingham Palace previously said the Queen and Prince Philip would spend Christmas "quietly" at the castle, but a royal source had told Newsweek she would likely see some family.

Now that they have been placed in England's "Tier 4," even that will be impossible indoors as the U.K. government struggles to contain a new mutant strain of coronavirus.

Queen Elizabeth II at Windsr Castle Christmas
Queen Elizabeth II thanks local volunteers and key workers for the work they are doing during the coronavirus pandemic and over Christmas in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle on December 8, 2020 in Windsor, England. The queen is facing a lonely Christmas due to coronavirus this year. Glyn Kirk - WPA Pool/Getty

A royal source told Newsweek: "They will follow Tier 4 guidelines."

The regulations state: "In general, you must not meet socially or carry out any activities with another person.

"However, you can exercise or meet in a public outdoor place with people you live with, your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person."

At 94, the monarch's options for outdoor physical exercise in December are more limited than most.

Tier 4 was created last week after the British government announced a new mutant strain of coronavirus was spreading faster than previous ones in London and the southeast.

Windsor and Maidenhead had 414 cases in the week from December 11 to December 17, up 236 on the week before.

Britons had been told they would be able to form "Christmas bubbles" to allow up to three households to spend Christmas indoors together.

However, the Queen will no longer be able to form a Christmas bubble due to being in Tier 4.

At the beginning of the month, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: "Having considered all the appropriate advice, the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor."

That same day, a royal source told Newsweek: "They may see some members of their family but the Queen and the duke understand family will have competing demands over the Christmas period and are content to have a quiet festive period this year."

Prince William and Kate Middleton have also been affected as the Duchess of Cambridge's family lives in Berkshire.

They will therefore not be able to see her parents Michael and Carole Middleton at their Bucklebury mansion.

The duke and duchess were today accused of flouting coronavirus regulations after pictures published in the Daily Mail showed them socializing with William's uncle, Prince Edward, and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

Together with both couples' children, they made a group of nine and did not always keep to social distancing guidelines which recommend people keep at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) apart.

A royal source said the two families did not intend to see each other but had been given consecutive slots to visit the Luminate Christmas light display at Sandringham, the Queen's Norfolk estate.