Why Queen Elizabeth II Won't go to Church on Christmas Day—Even Though Brits Can

Queen Elizabeth II has chosen not to attend a church service this year as she faces a quiet Christmas with husband Prince Philip for the first time since 1949.

Buckingham Palace yesterday announced the 94-year-old monarch will stay at Windsor Castle, rather than Sandringham where she usually spends Christmas, as the palace adapts to the threat of coronavirus.

However, Elizabeth, the ceremonial head of the Church of England, will also avoid church on Christmas Day.

The royal family walk to church on Christmas morning normally attracts a crowd of well-wishers and royal-watchers, potentially increasing the risk from coronavirus.

A palace source told Newsweek: "The Queen will not attend a church service on Christmas Day to avoid attracting any crowds."

However, she is expected to worship privately at Windsor Castle's chapel.

Queen Elizabeth II Arrives for Sandringham Christmas
Queen Elizabeth II arrives at King's Lynn station to begin her Christmas break at Sandringham House on December 21, 2017 in King's Lynn, England. The Queen will instead have a quiet Christmas at Windsor Castle this year, avoiding Sandringham for the first time since 1988. Max Mumby/Getty

This year will be the first time the queen has spent Christmas at Windsor Castle since 1988, when electric rewiring at the castle forced a move to her Norfolk estate.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson yesterday 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."

The last time the monarch and her husband spent Christmas alone was in 1949 when they traveled to Malta without then one-year-old Prince Charles, the Daily Mail reports.

The royal couple may still see family members, but have given permission for her children and grandchildren to make other plans.

U.K. coronavirus rules allow families to form "Christmas bubbles" between three different households but left the monarch with a dilemma.

She has four children to consider and grandson Prince William, as a direct heir to the throne, is senior within the royal hierarchy.

A royal source yesterday 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."

The decision gives Prince Charles the option to spend time with wife Camilla's children, Prince William with wife Kate Middleton's parents, and Prince Andrew with his two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

The queen's decision to stay at Windsor comes as the cvastle prepares to welcome visitors to see its Christmas tree tomorrow.

A spokesperson for the Royal Collection Trust said: "From Thursday, 3 December, visitors to Windsor Castle will see the State Apartments transformed with shimmering Christmas trees, twinkling lights and festive garlands.

"To mark the bicentenary of George IV's accession to the throne in 1820, the State Dining Room table will be laid with a spectacular display of his silver-gilt Grand Service."

The U.K. Government's tier two rules state: "You can attend places of worship for a service.

"However, you must not socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble."