Why The Queen Won't Return to Buckingham Palace After Her Scotland Vacation

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are currently vacationing at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, but they won't be returning to Buckingham Palace afterwards.

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  • Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (opens in new tab) are currently vacationing at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where the royals typically spend the summer.
  • They won't be returning to Buckingham Palace afterwards, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Queen and Philip will continue to stay at Windsor Castle instead.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (opens in new tab) typically return to Buckingham Palace in the fall, after spending the summer at their Scottish estate, Balmoral. But this year, the coronavirus pandemic has altered their plans. Instead of heading home to London in October, the Queen and Philip will return to Windsor Castle, where they've been self-isolating since March, as People reports (opens in new tab). According to the Sunday Times, this is the longest the monarch's been away from Buckingham Palace since she took the throne in 1952.

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The royal family typically gather at Balmoral Castle, in Aberdeenshire, every summer—but the pandemic drastically altered proceedings, the Sunday Times reports (opens in new tab)Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, and Archie were all expected to visit this year, but international travel restrictions quashed those plans. The royal guests who did make it to Balmoral, according to the newspaper, are barred from entering the castle itself, staying on other properties within its grounds. While guests are likely participating in outdoor activities including "walks, shooting, fishing, horse riding, picnics and barbecues," meals indoors are very much off the table.

To minimize her risk of contracting COVID-19, the Queen is spending her summer within a "Balmoral bubble," comprising staff members who were already in contact with the monarch at Windsor. Said staff members include (deep breath): "Vice-Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, master of the household; Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary; Paul Whybrew and William Henderson, her pages; Major Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, her equerry; Terry Pendry, her head groom; Angela Kelly, the Queen’s personal assistant and her senior dresser; Jackie Newbold, Kelly’s PA; and three assistant dressers."

Naturally, the royal family wouldn't confirm any specifics of the Queen's summer break—a Buckingham Palace spokesperson told the Sunday Times, "Balmoral is a private time and we would not comment on any plans or arrangements."

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Emily Dixon
Emily Dixon

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.