Queen Elizabeth II Changes Christmas Plans for First Time in 32 Years

Queen Elizabeth II has changed her Christmas plans for the first time in 32 years, as the royal family prepares for the impact of coronavirus on the festivities.

The monarch and her husband, Prince Philip, have turned their backs on Sandringham, where they have spent every Christmas and New Year since 1988.

Instead, they will celebrate "quietly in Windsor" as they build their plans for the festive season around the threat of COVID.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson: "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."

Queen Elizabeth II Remembrance Sunday 2020
Queen Elizabeth II attends the National Service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph on November 8, 2020 in London, England. She has been forced to change her Christmas plans due to the coronavirus. Max Mumby/Getty

The Queen will still have the option to see other royals over Christmas at Windsor, though no plans have been disclosed yet.

Britons have been given permission to form "Christmas bubbles," where up to three households can meet for a Christmas celebration.

A 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."

Among those who may consider seeing Elizabeth is Prince Andrew, who will be close by at Royal Lodge, in Windsor.

However, he may choose to form bubbles with his daughters Princess Eugenie, who is expecting a baby in the New Year, and the recently married Princess Beatrice.

The Queen's Christmas would usually involve presents at Sandringham House on Christmas Eve before a church service on Christmas Day.

The royals traditionally walk to church past well-wishers and royal watchers, though recently the 94-year-old Queen has been driven by car.

All that will change now that she will base herself at Windsor instead, though the palace is yet to confirm whether she intends to go to church.

Elizabeth's staff have been forming protective "bubbles," small teams isolating before an extended period spent living with her at Windsor Castle.

Dickie Arbiter, the queen's former spokesperson, told Newsweek the decision was taken because the houses at Sandringham are less well-suited to running Elizabeth's staff during the pandemic.

He said: "I'm not surprised this has happened. It makes perfect sense.

"It's pretty obvious that there are two alternatives at Sandringham, one is the big house, the other is Wood Farm.

"At the big house you need a lot of staff to run it. You're allowed three families but which three families do you choose?

"The alternative would be Wood Farm but Wood Farm is too small. So the decision has been taken to stay at Windsor.

"The Queen is pragmatic. She knows what the situation is. She takes advice given to her by the government, so they'll spend Christmas together at Windsor."

The Queen used to spend Christmas at Windsor Castle and New Year at Sandringham up until 1988, when the castle needed rewiring.

Arbiter said the plan had always been to return to Windsor once the work was finished, but the 1992 fire at the castle "put the kibosh on that."