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The Queen and Prince Philip’s traditional Christmas routine hangs in the balance amid the coronavirus lockdown and a staffing dispute, sources have suggested. The elderly royals are currently spending the second English lockdown at Windsor Castle.
Nation-wide lockdown measures are to be eased on December 2, when COVID-19 regulations will be adjusted on the level of infection in each area.
However, even if newly-issued COVID guidelines in Berkshire and Norfolk allowed the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to travel across England, it would seem unlikely the elderly royals will be able to celebrate Christmas at Sandringham House as they have done for the past three decades, one Sandringham insider said.
They told The Sun: “We have been told not to expect them back for Christmas.”
However, sources added no official decision will taken until lockdown finishes.
Among the factors to be taken into account, there is a possible Rule of Six, which if in place would see the Queen and Philip be able only to invite four more royals to Sandringham, social distancing measures and a rumoured rebellion among staff in Norfolk who would need to self-isolate away from their families to be able to help the Queen over the festive period.
Another insider said: “Nothing has been resolved as staff are still refusing to quarantine from their families.
“So it’s looking almost certain they can’t have Christmas inside the big house at Sandringham.
“It is possible, of course, to arrange a smaller one for Philip and the Queen at Wood Farm cottage.
“But moving the Queen and Duke to Windsor, where they know the bubble works, makes it simpler to start planning to stay there for Christmas.”
Wood Farm is the five-bedroom cottage on the Sandringham Estate which has become the main residence of Prince Philip after his retirement in 2017.
The Duke and the monarch spent a few weeks there between mid-September and early October and, again, a weekend together shortly before the second lockdown was put in place.
The palace has yet to issue an official statement on Christmas at Sandringham.
Buckingham Palace told the newspaper: “No final decision has been taken on Christmas.”
Express.co.uk has also contacted the Palace for comment.
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8.15am update: Queen understands Meghan Markle and Harry’s ‘yearning’ for normal life
The Queen understood Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s “yearning” for an ordinary life after having experienced it herself, a royal expert said.
the expert said the monarch, having lived a few months of ordinary life as a newlywed with Prince Philip, was keen to allow Meghan and Harry to have the same experience while retaining their senior royal statuses.
He said: “It seems that this idea they could have lived abroad in the Commonwealth came from the Queen.
“When she realised that things were not going well, she looked back to the time she and Prince Philip spent in Malta before she became queen and what a wonderful time that was was to live a little of normal life.
“She understood their yearning for that ordinary life.
“So it seems that she is the one who suggested this, she set up a little group of people with Sir Christopher Geidt and Sir David Manning to work on this.”
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