Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will celebrate Christmas at Windsor Castle instead of Sandringham Estate, their Norfolk country residence where the typically spend the holidays.
After weighing public health advice, the royal couple has decided to celebrate "quietly" at their Berkshire residence, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said. Her Royal Highness and Prince Philip have been living at Windsor with a limited staff since the pandemic began earlier this year. Although the Queen attended a few socially distant, in-person events this fall, she has yet to return to Buckingham Palace in London, her primary home.
The British royal family's decision to change their holiday plans follows speculation about whether or not Christmas at Sandringham would be in keeping with the U.K.'s holiday coronavirus guidance that people should limit contact outside their own household to "bubbles" of three households spread over a five-day period. The family's Sandringham tradition includes attending a Christmas church service at Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Sandringham, where they are typically greeted by large crowds.
The Queen is typically joined at Sandringham by Prince William and Catherine Middleton (who typically stay at Anmer Hall, their residence at Sandringham), among other members of the royal family. It's unclear as of now whether or not the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will fit within the Queen's Christmas "bubble" this year.
This is the first year the Queen and Prince Phillip have not spent Christmas at their Sandringham home since 1988. Although the couple tends to spend the Christmas holiday in Norfolk, she typically records her annual Christmas message, which is broadcast by the BBC, at Windsor or Buckingham a few days earlier.
Her first televised Christmas message, which marked the 25th anniversary of the first broadcast radio message to the Commonwealth delivered by her grandfather, King George VI, was broadcast live from Sandringham in 1957.
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