Some key Sandringham staff, including cleaners, laundry and maintenance workers, have proved reluctant to isolate from their families in order to work around the 94-year-old monarch. It means some domestic staff at Windsor, in what has been nicknamed HMS Bubble, may have to move with her, as well as private secretaries and other advisers. A decision on where the Queen will spend Christmas is expected in early December but courtiers are working on the assumption she will want to carry on the tradition of Christmas at Sandringham.
The Windsor clan descends on Sandringham on Christmas Day, attending church, having lunch and going on a Boxing Day shoot.
But they will have to obey the Government’s Covid rules, allowing just three households to mix from December 23 to 27, with no shifting from one group to another.
As the Daily Express revealed in October, sources believe it is highly unlikely the Queen will go to church on Christmas Day because it would attract crowds and put people at risk of contracting the virus.
Even if the royals stay in separate houses, aides will have to weigh up the public morale boost of seeing them following tradition in spite of the pandemic, versus the danger of sending out the wrong message.
Last year, the Queen was joined in Norfolk by Charles and Camilla, William, Kate and their three children, Anne, Edward and Sophie, Andrew, Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, now her husband.
The most likely scenario is the rest of the family will stay in their own bubbles. William and Kate are likely to be with their children at their Anmer Hall retreat on the estate.
Charles and Camilla could join the Queen as one-third of her bubble, but that would mean Camilla would then be unable to meet her children and grandchildren.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “No decisions have been taken about Christmas yet.”
Both Sandringham and Windsor Castle, where the Queen and Philip have spent most of their time taking precautions since March, are in Tier 2 under the Government’s latest Covid restrictions.