The Queen and Prince Philip returned together to their home in Berkshire yesterday, after having spent privately a weekend in Norfolk. This move just a few days before the beginning of the second national lockdown has thrown into doubt the elderly royals will be able to celebrate Christmas at Sandringham, as they have been doing over the past 37 years.
Joe Little, the managing editor at Majesty Magazine, said: “Clearly it indicates there isn’t going to be any sort of Christmas at Sandringham.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, aides and courtiers aren’t leaving anything to chance and continue to plan for the eventuality the royals will be able to travel to Sandringham in late December to celebrate a Christmas as normal as possible.
However, it is unlikely this year the Queen and Prince Philip will be able to gather many of her relatives under the same roof due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, the traditional walkabout outside of St Mary’s Magdalene Church will unlikely take place to avoid mass gatherings.
Christmas celebrations for the royals usually start in mid-December, when the Queen hosts a lunch at Buckingham Palace for her extended family.
After wrapping up her royal duties in London, the Queen then travels to King’s Lynn station via train a few days before the beginning of the festivities.
On Christmas Eve, she is joined at Sandringham House by her closest relatives who, on the day, open presents and take part in a black-tie dinner.
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On December 25, the Queen attends a first service early in the morning and later joins the other royals for the 11am service.
The Queen is driven to the church, usually accompanied by one or two relatives.
Other royals walk to the church, which is just a few minutes away from Sandringham House.
Whether the Queen and Prince Philip will be able to return to Sandringham in late December will depend on which tier the Berkshire and Norfolk areas will be at the end of the lockdown on December 2.
While their stay in Windsor may mark a sudden change in the royal Christmas tradition, it will give the chance to the elderly couple to celebrate together their 73rd wedding anniversary on November 20.
Royal biographer Penny Junor said: “I just think it’s very nice if they are together in the same residence and same part of the world.
“It’s company for one another. They’re a marvellous old couple.”
Last year, the pair spent their 72nd anniversary apart, with the Queen working in London while Philip was in Norfolk.
Since he retired from public duties in August 2017, the Duke of Edinburgh has made Wood Cottage his main residence.
This five-bedroom home sits on the Queen’s estate in Norfolk.
There, the Duke has turned his attention to his hobbies as well as establishing a truffle farm – which is now producing an annual haul of black truffles.
At the cottage, Prince Philip has stripped down to the bare minimum royal protocols and etiquettes and doesn’t require staff to wear royal livery.
The Queen, who in normal times visits often her husband at Wood Cottage, is also said to be more at ease at this unceremonial home.
Reporting the words of the former courtier, the Telegraph wrote: “I was once at a shooting lunch.
“At the end of lunch, I heard someone say: ‘I’ll do the washing-up.’
“I turned around and there was the Queen in her yellow washing-up gloves.”