Another Christmas amiss. Queen Elizabeth II will not celebrate the holidays in Sandringham due to the latest spike in COVID-19 cases, Us Weekly confirms.
The Queen, 95, who was set to fly from Windsor to Sandringham via helicopter on Wednesday, December 22, will not head to the countryside estate. She will spend Christmas at Windsor Castle for the second year in a row.
Royal expert Kerene Barefield revealed in an exclusive interview with Us that aides had developed backup plans for the queen to have a downsized Christmas at Windsor Castle as she did last year amid the pandemic.
“I understand from sources that there could be a Christmas at Windsor this year, if things change,” Barefield said hours before Us confirmed the Queen’s change in plans. “So, I think close aides are kind of looking at an alternative Christmas and how that would look at Windsor instead of everyone going to Sandringham.”
However, that might mean that Prince William and Duchess Kate have to stay at their countryside home, Amner Hall, in Norfolk, England, with their three children, Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3.
“That will be further away from them than if they’re in Sandringham, [which is] just a stone’s throw [away from Norfolk],” the expert noted. “So yeah, they may not [attend], if it’s at Windsor.”
Barefield, who is an executive producer on True Royalty TV‘s The Royal Beat, emphasized that plans for Christmas are ever-changing based on the government’s recommendations amid the pandemic. The monarch typically has her annual Christmas party days before the holiday, but she canceled the event, which was set for December 21.
“During that weekend, I know that the queen didn’t go to church at Windsor, which she normally would’ve done, just because she’s just trying to keep every everyone safe for Christmas day just in case things can go ahead,” Barefield added.
The royals were hoping for “a small, close family gathering at Sandringham,” which would have included William and Kate, both 39, in addition to many of her “closest family” members.
“This would include Prince Charles and Camilla; Kate and William and the children — who obviously will be staying close anyway, just a stone’s throw away in Norfolk,” the producer said of the original Christmas plans. “Prince Andrew and the girls, Beatrice and Eugenie and the husbands and the babies; And Princess Anne and her husband; and then Sophie and Edward.”
However, the Windsor guest list will be shorter. While it was just her and Prince Philip last year, the queen will not have to spend Christmas alone after his death last April. With vaccinations and other protocols in place, she will be able to have a small number of visitors.
“What I understand from sources is that she won’t be spending alone, but it might be just slimmed down even further than what we talked about,” Barefield explained.