Royal Family ‘wondering how many Christmases left together’ as Sandringham plans dashed

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Queen Elizabeth II, 94, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 99 will be spending their Christmas together, alone at Windsor Castle for the first time in more than 30 years. While the family normally congregate at the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, this year has seen them change their Christmas plans as they all stay away from each other in a bid to keep safe during the ongoing pandemic. Despite the Government allowing families to form a Christmas bubble with three households, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh likely opted out as their age puts them in the very clinically vulnerable category.

This is a bad year for the royals to have to miss Christmas, as the monarch and Prince Philip’s age likely means they won’t have many more to spend with their family.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, royal author Penny Junor said: “Given the age of both the Queen and the Duke, I imagine they and the entire family will be wondering how many more Christmases they will have to spend together.

“It is something families up and down the country with elderly relatives, forced to spend Christmas apart this year, will no doubt be wondering.”

The Queen has been dealt another blow by not being able to spend Christmas at her beloved Sandringham, a tradition the family have engaged in for decades.

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Speaking on what the Queen will miss most in Sandringham this year, Ms Junor explained it’s the little things and family traditions which mean most.

She said: “I am sure she will miss the dogs.

“She breeds gun dogs at Sandringham, and although she doesn’t work them herself anymore, she still delights in watching others work them.

“And then she will miss the Boxing Day shoot, which the Duke of Edinburgh always used to organise and was a high spot of Christmas for the whole family.”

The Royal Family and Sandringham Christmases are synonymous, especially in recent years since they stopped going to Windsor in the late 1980s.

Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliam told Express.co.uk: “The images beamed across the world of them [royals] going to church on Christmas morning, followed by the Queen’s messages in the afternoon.

“These are all seen by many millions around the globe, and has linked them to Christmas at Sandringham in a very special way, both in the Commonwealth and in the wider world.”

The Queen often stays in Sandringham for a few months after Christmas, preferring to spend winters in Norfolk and summers in Balmoral, Scotland.

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February brings the anniversary of King George, the Queen’s father’s death, which is a commemorative day very close to the monarch’s heart.

Mr Fitzwilliam added: “The Queen stays at Sandringham until after February 6, which is the anniversary of the date of the death of her father George VI, who died there, and of her own accession to the throne.”

Ultimately, however, the Queen is leading in her duties and setting a shining example to the rest of the country by opting out of her usual plans.

While a number of celebrities and prominent figures have been caught breaking lockdown rules and evading the restrictions, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have firmly stuck to the safety measures.

Mr Fitzwilliams concluded: “This year she is sending an important message to the nation by deciding to isolate with Prince Philip this Christmas.

“There is widespread concern about the consequences if the mixing of different ages occurs in the permitted period during the festive season, and this decision would have been taken following advice from the Government based on medical guidance.

“The Queen and Prince Philip have celebrated Christmas with their children since 1949 and are likely to see members of their family virtually this year.

“But the Queen will undoubtedly take comfort in the knowledge that not only is she setting an example for the nation to follow, but that the two messages she delivered from Windsor this year were both widely watched and boosted morale, which her Christmas message will undoubtedly do as well.”

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