Her Majesty and Prince Philip are likely to be stuck in Windsor Castle for the whole holiday because of new tier travelling restrictions imposed by the Government. Normally they would see in the new year at Sandringham but are unlikely to be able to move from Windsor, which is in Tier 4. The Queen’s previous New Year’s Eve tradition involves a “lucky dip” game with fortune cards.
A footman brings in a tub filled with sawdust and hidden notes giving a forecast for the coming year.
In his book on the Queen’s home life, author Brian Hoey said: “Each member of the Royal Family takes a lucky dip and if their particular forecast is not very favourable the poor footman gets the blame.”
A royal source said: “The predictions are written up by the household but approved by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
“Each member of the family picks out an envelope and reads out their prediction to the rest of the room.
“They’re meant to be funny but like all the family’s humour there’s an element of score settling and getting even to them. They’re usually taken in good humour but some people can get quite huffy if they feel they’re being got at.”
Another quirk of the Royal festivities is that the Queen, left, insists on keeping up her decorations well after 12th Night – and will not allow them to be taken down until she’s left Sandringham.
The first footing tradition – where a dark-haired male is the first to step into the house after midnight carrying a gift of coal to bring luck – is also likely to be a Covid casualty. But some things never change, even in the face of a pandemic.
The source added: “The Queen will still ring in the new year on the stroke of midnight.”