The Queen and Prince Philip Will Break a Royal Christmas Tradition


The Queen's grand Christmas celebrations (opens in new tab) have officially been called off, a Buckingham Palace source confirmed to People (opens in new tab). While the monarch and Prince Philip typically spend the holiday at the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk—with the wider royal family joining for yearly traditions including the Christmas Day walk to church—this year they'll continue to isolate at Windsor Castle. According to People, the Queen had already canceled two major holiday parties: one for embassy staff and diplomats, and one for her family. 

"Having considered all the appropriate advice, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor,” a palace spokesperson told People.

A second insider told the magazine, "They are fortunate to spend Christmas with their family every year, but they understand that their family will have competing demands over the Christmas period and are content to have a quiet festive season this year." The source added, "Like everyone, their hope is that normality will return in 2021."

Under new UK COVID-19 guidelines, the Queen and Philip could potentially meet with other family members over Christmas: The government announced last month that up to three households may gather indoors between December 23 and 27. But Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are expected to spend the holiday with Meghan's mom, Doria Ragland, in their new Montecito home (international travel during a pandemic being less than practical), while Kate Middleton and Prince William have yet to confirm their plans, with the Cambridges typically spending alternate Christmases with the Queen at Sandringham and Kate's family in Bucklebury, Berkshire.

The Queen and Philip do have two confirmed visitors, though not on Christmas Day: Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall will visit over the festive period, according to a palace insider, while they'll spend December 25 at Highgrove House, their Gloucestershire country house. Sounds like this Christmas will be a quiet one for the royals!

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.