Queen misses church in bid to protect Sandringham Christmas plans
Efforts to protect the Queen‘s Christmas plans at Sandringham continue as she decided to miss church yesterday as a precaution due to the threat of Covid, it has been reported.
Queen Elizabeth is set to make a decision on her Christmas plans in the next 48 hours, reports suggest, after it was revealed she may abandon plans to host family festivities at the royal estate in Norfolk because of coronavirus.
Her majesty missed her usual church service at Windsor yesterday as part of the measures being taken to protect the traditional Christmas celebrations, which have been held at Sandringham since 1988.
The Queen, 95, is set to leave for Sandringham on Wednesday, according to the Sun, and staff are working to prepare the rooms in anticipation that she will be joined by family.
This will be the first Christmas the Queen has marked since the death of her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, earlier this year and it is understood that family members are preparing to rally round her so she does not have to spend it alone.
The Queen continues to take cautious measures to protect her plans to host family Christmas festivities at Sandringham this year as Covid continues to cast doubt on whether they will go ahead. Pictured: The Queen with her family at Christmas Day service in King’s Lynn in 2017
The Royal Family have been celebrating Christmas at the Sandringham estate since 1988
Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children, Prince Andrew and daughters Beatrice and Eugenie and Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex’s family are expected to make the trip to join the Queen for the festivities this week.
The Queen is still keen to go to her beloved 20,000-acre estate at Sandringham, where she normally stays until early February – particularly as she spent last year at Windsor alone apart from her late husband and a handful of staff, due to lockdown.
A source confirmed to the Mail on Sunday that the Queen’s Christmas plans are under review and added: ‘There is a strong desire for it to be as normal as it can be but obviously this is subject to practical concerns.’
It is unlikely the 95-year-old Monarch will join the 200-strong congregation at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham for the traditional Christmas Day service.
Instead, she is expected to attend a private service similar to last year when a Royal chaplain delivered a sermon and readings.
But there are alternative plans in place. Should the risk of Omicron be considered too great for the Queen, who has recently suffered a bout of ill- health, then a scaled-back celebration could be held at Windsor Castle.
Pictured: William and Kate walk behind Prince Charles with their children after attending the Christmas Day service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate in 2019
The Mirror reports that a decision will be made in the next 48 hours and that a palace source said the Queen will ‘lead from the front’ if the Government decides to issue any further advice about mixing over the Christmas period.
The source told the newspaper: ‘The Queen and the rest of the family are mindful the situation is ever changing and many thousands of families may also be affected.
‘A decision on whether the queen travels as planned will be made as soon as possible.’
It comes after the Queen ‘regretfully’ scrapped next week’s traditional Royal Family Christmas lunch amid Omicron fears.
While the Queen has been forced to pull out of several engagements over the past two months – including a visit to Northern Ireland – she has been well enough to carry out her duties as head of state.
Last week, she was seen taking part in video calls and a Palace source confirmed she had been walking unaided in London to honour a diary commitment after travelling to the capital from Windsor.
Changes to the Palace schedule, often schemed out months in advance, are never undertaken lightly, however. And behind the scenes everything is being done to help the Queen save the family’s Sandringham Christmas.
‘Sandringham is special not only because of all the fond memories of Prince Philip and the hard work he did to transform the estate,’ the insider told the Mail on Sunday, ‘But also because it’s the very place where her father passed away.
‘It’s the reason why, normally, she will never leave Sandringham after the Christmas break until she has marked his anniversary on February 6.’
It will be a particularly poignant date, for next year marks the 70th anniversary of the death of her father, King George VI – and the point at which the Queen will have been on the throne for seven decades.
The Platinum Jubilee celebrations will be yet another milestone for the Queen who in 2015 surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria to become the longest-reigning British Monarch.