The rule of six comes into effect today, Monday, September 14, meaning it is illegal for people in England to meet in groups of more than six, both outdoors and indoors. The measures were introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in response to climbing coronavirus figures. While the new rules are sure to put a dampener on the Royal Family’s Christmas plans, where they gather together at Sandringham for a celebration with the extended family, they will still be able to enjoy one special event.
According to reports, there is one exception to the rule of six – grouse and pheasant shooting.
It is understood that shooting can continue to take place in gatherings of between six and 30 people, thanks to a loophole that permits licensed outdoor activity.
According to Government guidelines, shooting is classes as an outdoor activity, meaning shoots can continue to take place where a licence, permit or certificate is held by the organiser.
This will come as welcome news to the Royal Family, who engage in a Boxing Day shoot every year.
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The family traditionally take part in pheasant shooting on Boxing Day as a whole family.
For Royals staying at Sandringham over the festive period, Boxing Day is quite an affair.
The day starts with a hearty buffet breakfast of kedgeree, bacon and eggs.
Kedgeree is a dish of flaked fish, rice, hard-boiled eggs with cream and curry powder – ideal to kickstart a day of physical activity.
The royals then spend their day outdoors, enjoying a range of pursuits including shooting pheasants, riding horses and walking around the vast Norfolk estate.
Senior members of the Royal Family including Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children are all traditionally present on Boxing Day.
Prince Harry Meghan Markle and their baby son, Archie, missed out on the celebrations last year, opting instead to spend the festive period with Meghan’s mum, Doria Ragland, in Vancouver Island, Canada.
However, the Royal Family’s love and enthusiasm for hunting remains a controversial topic, with many people thinking the pursuit is outdated and cruel to animals.
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Royal Correspondent Victoria Murphy told Yahoo’s The Royal Box that the Boxing Day had become somewhat of a “conundrum” for the family in recent years.
She said: “This is a big conundrum for them and the shooting is a bit of an Achilles heel with the Royal Family, because they do go shooting and it is for recreation, but at the same time, they support conservation charities and are very outspoken about that.
“They would say that actually they are very different things because they are talking about endangered wildlife when they’re talking about the charities they’re supporting.”
Ms Murphy also pointed out that photos of the Royals engaging in a Boxing Day shoot rarely surface for one reason.
Royal biographer Duncan Larcombe recalls one photograph of the Queen during a shoot in 2000 which made headlines all over the world.
Mr Larcome explained: “There were famous pictures taken about 12 years ago of the Queen wringing a pheasant’s neck that had been shot and she killed it.
“And ever since then, the photographers have been… I mean, they use long lenses anyway.
“But they would need telescopes now because it’s so far back because it is not good PR, it doesn’t look good.”