Where will the Queen spend Christmas? Why Elizabeth II has cancelled Sandringham plans - and where she’ll go instead
The Queen has enjoyed every Christmas Day at Sandringham for 32 years - until the Covid pandemic
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It will be the 95-year-old monarch’s first Christmas since the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh - who passed away in April.
This year she will not be attending her home in Sandringham or a public church service on Christmas Day - which Buckingham Palace aides described as a ‘personal decision’.
So, what are the Queen’s plans for Christmas 2021 - and is she allowed to spend time with guests?
Where is the Queen spending Christmas this year?
Rather than travel to Sandringham as usual, the Queen will remain at Windsor where she spent last Christmas with her husband Philip.
The head of state normally hosts her large family at Sandringham in Norfolk over the holidays - and they are watched by crowds as they attend church on December 25.
But as coronavirus cases increase rapidly across the country amid the rise of the Omicron variant, the Queen plans to remain at Windsor Castle and will not be attending a public church service on Christmas Day.
Is the Queen allowed visitors for Christmas?
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will be with the Queen on Christmas Day, a Clarence House spokesman said.
The monarch will also be joined by members of her family over the festive period - though it has not been confirmed yet where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be spending Christmas.
This week the Queen cancelled the traditional pre-Christmas lunch with her extended family, which was scheduled for 21 December.
Why is Christmas traditionally held at Sandringham?
The Queen has spent much of this year at Windsor Castle, where she and Philip remained after Christmas while shielding throughout the lockdowns.
The duke, her husband of 74 years, died on April 9, and his funeral was held during coronavirus restrictions within the confines of the castle.
In October this year, the Queen was admitted to hospital overnight for preliminary investigations and ordered by her royal doctors to rest.
The monarch also sprained her back and was advised to pull out of attending several events, including the Remembrance Sunday service.
During the 1960s, when the Queen’s children were young, many Christmases were celebrated at Windsor, but since 1988, when the castle was rewired, royal Christmases returned to Sandringham.
Is the Queen still making her Christmas Day speech?
This year’s Royal Christmas Message will begin at 3pm on 25 December - and will last for around ten minutes.
Though specific details of the Royal Message haven’t yet been revealed, it’s expected that the Queen will talk about the impact of the pandemic in her reflection on 2021.
She’s also likely to tie that to her own loss of her husband, Prince Philip, after their 73-year marriage.
The Queen’s Christmas speech will air simultaneously on BBC One, ITV, Sky One, and Sky News and broadcast on BBC Radio Four.
It will also be available on BBC iPlayer, and later uploaded to the Royal Family’s website too.
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