Queen’s Christmas conundrum: Which two royal households will the monarch choose to join her bubble at Windsor Castle?

Sarah Young
·4-min read

After months of uncertainty, the government has confirmed people can spend five days with other households across the festive period. From 23 to 27 December, families across all four nations will be allowed to gather in one another’s homes.

However, the rules mean that just three households can mix together to form a so-called “Christmas bubble”, which must be exclusive, meaning people cannot shift from one group on Christmas Day, for example, to another group on Boxing Day.

The restrictions mean that families across the nation are being faced with the dilemma of who to invite round for a festive feast on Christmas day, and the royals are no exception.

Here is everything we know so far about how the Queen will be spending Christmas day.

Where will the Queen spend Christmas?

Buckingham Palace has confirmed that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will spend Christmas at Windsor Castle this year as opposed to travelling to the Sandringham estate in Norfolk where they traditionally celebrate with other members of the royal family.

“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,” a palace spokesperson said on 1 December.

The palace did not announce if any other households will be joining HRH and Prince Philip at Windsor.

This year marks the first time in more than 30 years that the Queen has spent Christmas at the historic Berkshire castle.

During the 1960s, when the Queen's children were young, many Christmases were celebrated at Windsor but, since 1988, when the castle was being rewired, royal Christmases returned to Sandringham.

Who does the Queen normally invite?

Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh have a large family of four children and eight grandchildren, who are all nearly grown up, along with eight great-grandchildren.

In previous years, the majority of the royal family have descended en masse to the Sandringham estate to stay with the monarch.

Last year, those joining the Queen in Norfolk included the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, the Duke of York, Princess Beatrice and her then fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, the Princess Royal and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

After the much-photographed appearance of the “Fab Four” - William, Kate, Harry and Meghan - as they emerged through the gates of Sandringham on Christmas day in 2018, last year the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chose to spend the festive period on on Vancouver Island in Canada with their son Archie.

Who could she invite this year?

Options could include Prince Charles and Camilla joining the Queen as one third of her bubble, but this would mean the duchess would be unable to see her children and grandchildren.

The Queen could also invite her youngest son Edward, with his wife Sophie and their children Lady Louise Windsor, 16, and 12-year-old Viscount Severn, who form one household.

The Princess Royal might attend instead or the Duke of York, but they have grown up children, with whom they might wish to form a bubble.

William, Kate and their children could spend Christmas with the Middleton family in Berkshire. However, Kate’s parents, Carole and Michael, have two other children – Pippa Matthews and James Middleton – meaning one of the three offspring would not be allowed to gather for the festive celebrations.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who are grieving the loss of their second child after a miscarriage, are unlikely to factor in the guest list as they are currently thousands of miles away, living in the US.

Whatever options the royals choose, the family will have to decide whether it is wise to visit the 94-year-old monarch and 99-year-old Philip after Mr Johnson urged families to make a “personal judgment” about the risks of coronavirus to vulnerable loved ones.

How else will the royals be impacted by the rules?

The restrictions also mean the Queen will not be able to host her traditional pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace when the wider royal family usually gathers each year for a get-together a week or so before Christmas.

Normally, the Queen attends church on Christmas morning and sits down with the rest of the royal family for a traditional roast turkey dinner, the bird having been reared at Sandringham, before settling down to the Queen's Christmas Speech.

The Queen's address is recorded in advance but it will be the first time a Christmas broadcast has been carried out amid such unprecedented restrictions.

It is likely that the monarch will use her address to focus on the challenges that people have faced during the Covid-19 crisis and how the country has responded.

The speech is written by the Queen herself and is one of the rare occasions when she is able to voice her own views.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the family's plans for this year.

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