Who will join the Queen for Christmas lunch at Windsor Castle?
Who will join the Queen for Christmas lunch? Prince Andrew, Fergie and daughters Beatrice and Eugenie are expected to be among royals around the festive dinner table in Windsor this year
- The Queen is likely to be joined by at least ten senior royals including her children Andrew, Edward and Anne
- They are expected to see her for lunch at Windsor Castle on Christmas Day despite Sandringham cancellation
- Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah and children Beatrice and Eugenie are also set to attend along with the Wessexes
- It is not yet known whether Charles, Camilla, William and Kate will spend Christmas Day with the Queen
The Queen is likely to be joined by at least ten senior royals including her children Princes Andrew, Edward and Princess Anne for lunch at Windsor Castle on Christmas Day, despite cancelling her plans to visit Sandringham.
Visitors on December 25 are most likely to include the Duke of York and his former wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, plus their two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, both of whom are new mothers.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex are also almost certain to be there, with their children, James, Viscount Severn, and Lady Louise. Princess Anne and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, are also likely to attend.
However it is not yet known whether the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will spend Christmas Day with the Queen, her first as a widow following Prince Philip’s death in April.
Andrew and his lawyers will be preparing for a hearing in New York next month when a judge will decide whether a sex abuse lawsuit being brought against him by Virginia Giuffre can go to trial. He strongly denies her claims.
The 95-year-old monarch cancelled her plans to spend Christmas at Sandringham in Norfolk and will remain at Windsor Castle as Covid-19 cases surge. Sources said the personal decision was taken yesterday by the Queen.
A source said plans were ‘still being confirmed’, with just three days to go until the family’s traditional gathering on Christmas Eve. But a senior royal source said some family would ‘be present on Christmas Day’.
How the royals normally celebrate Christmas at the Sandringham estate
During the 1960s, when the Queen’s children were young, many festive seasons for the Royal Family were celebrated at Windsor Castle.
But in 1988, when the castle was being rewired, the royal Christmas moved to Sandringham, the Queen’s country estate in Norfolk.
The family preferred the space and privacy of the 20,000-acre estate in Norfolk and have returned there ever since.
The Queen traditionally spends both Christmas and New Year at the estate, before leaving in February. She usually returns to London or Windsor on the anniversary of her father’s death on February 6.
And this coming February will be a particularly poignant date, for it marks the 70th anniversary of the death of her father, King George VI – and the point at which the Queen will have been on the throne for seven decades.
They added: ‘The decision was a personal one after careful consideration and reflects a precautionary approach.
‘There will be family visiting Windsor over the Christmas period and all appropriate guidelines will be followed.’
William, Kate and their three children George, Charlotte and Louis are unlikely to change their plans to spend Christmas at Anmer Hall, their family home in Norfolk – but they would go to see the Queen before they depart.
Last year, Prince Charles and Camilla spent Christmas Day at Highgrove, his country estate in Gloucestershire, and their plans for this Christmas have not yet been revealed.
The Queen will not attend church in public but will worship in her private chapel at Windsor Castle.
She has already recorded her annual Christmas message to be broadcast on the day.
It is the second consecutive year in which she has been forced to switch her Christmas celebrations from Norfolk to Windsor.
Last year, however, she was in a ‘bubble’ with Philip, her husband of 73 years, and a handful of loyal staff.
This year is her first without him following his death at the age of 99.
The Queen has not been seen in public since October following a string of health scares.
She was admitted to hospital overnight for preliminary investigations and ordered by her royal doctors to rest.
The monarch also sprained her back and was advised to pull out of attending several events, including the Remembrance Sunday service.
She has cancelled all public engagements to carry out ‘light duties’ at her desk.
2019 — The Queen leaves St Mary Magdalene’s Church after the Royal Family’s Christmas service on December 25, 2019
2018 — The Queen arrives at St Mary Magdalene’s Church for the Royal Family’s Christmas Day service on December 25, 2018
2017 — The Queen leaves St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Norfolk after the Christmas Day service on December 25, 2017
The Royal Family spent Christmas at Windsor until 1988, when they moved to Sandringham while the castle was rewired.
But they preferred the space and privacy of the 20,000-acre estate and have returned there ever since.
The monarch had hoped to be back in Norfolk this year.
But sources indicated that, given official pleas for people to act with caution, the Queen felt it was ‘too difficult’ for her family and staff to move between residences safely.
‘Her Majesty always leads by example,’ said one.
Her Majesty will be so bitterly sorry not to see the family: The Queen’s decision not to celebrate Christmas at Sandringham this year will be a crushing blow, writes RICHARD KAY
Make no mistake the disappointment will be crushing. For all the good intentions, the Queen will be bitterly sorry that she will not be celebrating Christmas this year at Sandringham.
It is not just the fact that, for the second year running, she will be absent from the Norfolk estate which is home to so many of her most treasured Christmas memories, but also that she will be deprived once again of the company of many of her family.
Their absence, particularly of her great-grandchildren, will be felt especially keenly.
After a year which began with the loss of her husband Prince Philip and ended with her having to cancel public engagements after a lengthy bout of ill health, her hopes had been raised by the prospect of a first family gathering at Sandringham since 2019.
It had promised to be one of the biggest royal get-togethers for years, with US-based Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex and their children the only absentees.
Despite the murmurs from royal aides that the Queen will be visited by family over Christmas – with ‘all appropriate guidelines’ followed – it inevitably means that the normal celebrations will be considerably scaled back.
Palace officials insist the Queen’s decision was a personal one and only taken after ‘careful consideration’, which is thought to have included medical advice.
2014 — Queen Elizabeth II leaves St Mary Magdalene’s Church after the Christmas Day service on December 25, 2014
It also seems likely that next year’s Platinum Jubilee events almost certainly featured in the decision-making process.
‘The Jubilee is a significant – and personal – landmark, and Her Majesty wishes to minimise any risk to events,’ says a courtier.
‘Putting herself, potentially, in harm’s way with a big family gathering is one such possible threat.’ Up to 50 family members were set to join the Queen, who had been expected to travel to Sandringham by helicopter either today or tomorrow.
Other royal guests were due to arrive by Christmas Eve.
Although not ‘bubbled’ with key staff at Windsor as earlier in the pandemic, special precautions had been taken to keep the Queen safe and Covid-free. They include her personal staff taking daily lateral-flow tests.
I understand that one servant had tested positive in recent days, but this played no part in the Queen’s decision to remain at Windsor.
However, I do understand that aides were concerned about the possibility of the Queen being exposed to infection with such a big group assembling at Sandringham – the same reason why this week’s wider Royal Family lunch was cancelled.
The question now is which members of the family will be with the Queen on Christmas Day.
The Queen receives the Sultan of Oman and his wife, the first lady of Oman, during an audience at Windsor Castle- on December 15 in what was one of her most recent official engagements this month
It seems likely that beleaguered Prince Andrew, who lives close by at the Royal Lodge, may remain at Windsor to be with his mother, as could Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex and their children.
Although the plans are not yet firm, I am told the Queen will ‘not’ be eating her Christmas lunch alone.
It was not immediately clear if some family members will still travel to Sandringham, though it is understood Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are set to spend the holiday break at Anmer Hall, their Norfolk home close to Sandringham House.
Last year, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall spent Christmas Day at Highgrove, his country estate in Gloucestershire.
This year will mark the second time in 33 years that the Queen has spent the festive season away from Sandringham.
Until the 1980s, Christmas was regularly spent at Windsor Castle, but the arrival of her grandchildren meant the royals needed the additional space of the Norfolk mansion.
It is still possible that the Queen will be able to travel to spend some of her winter break up at Sandringham – she usually remains there until February 6, which is the anniversary of her father King George VI’s death. Next year will be an especially poignant date, for it marks the 70th anniversary of her accession.
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