United Kingdom

The Queen and Prince Philip confirm they will spend Christmas 'quietly in Windsor'

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will spend Christmas 'quietly' at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.

For the last 33 years, the Queen 94, has spent the festive season at Sandringham, in Norfolk, where she hosts close family members and enjoys traditions such as the Boxing Day shoot. 

But this year the Queen and Prince Philip, 99, will remain at Windsor Castle, where they are isolating with a 'bubble' of staff.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said this afternoon: '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.'  

While family members are expected to still see the Queen and Prince Philip over the festive season, it is thought they will not form a Christmas bubble with any other household. 

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will spend Christmas at Highgrove House, in Gloucestershire.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will be spending Christmas at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace has confirmed. Pictured, the Queen at Windsor Castle last month

The Queen, 94, wrapped up warm as she took to the saddle of her favourite black pony earlier today in Windsor alongside Head Groom Terry Pendry 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are likely to celebrate either at Anmer Hall, in Norfolk, or at the Middleton family home in Berkshire. 

Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex and their children live at Bagshot Park, Surrey, while Princess Anne and her family live at Gatcombe Park, in Gloucestershire. Prince Andrew is the only one of the Queen's four children who lives in Windsor. 

Under government guidelines three households will be able to mix from December 23 to 27. However in Tier 2 regions, like Windsor, up to six people from different households are able to meet outside. 

This means the Queen and Prince Philip could meet with family members for horse riding, walks, or other outdoor activities. 

The Queen and Prince Philip are currently isolating at Windsor Castle, which is located in a Tier-2 area, after leaving Norfolk for the month-long lockdown.  

Prince Philip and the Queen have spent the year with a specially screened household dubbed 'HMS Bubble'. 

The Queen and the Duke had a summer holiday at Balmoral in August, but spent less than half their normal 10 weeks in Scotland due to coronavirus restrictions that limited visits from family and friends.

Prince Philip then wanted to return to Wood Farm and, in an unusual move, the Queen decided to join him before returning to Windsor last month. 

When she returned to Windsor alone at the start of October, the plan was for her to commute between Norfolk, Windsor and Buckingham Palace where she could have official engagements.

Seemingly, however, that has proved unworkable, and her only Royal visit has been a trip to the Porton Down military research laboratory near Salisbury. 

The monarch appeared to be enjoying some downtime as she rode out with the groom earlier this morning

The pair braved the temperature of the Chilly December morning to go riding - an activity the monarch particularly enjoys

The pair appeared relaxed as they rode out through the grounds of Windsor, with the royal choosing to ride black pony called Carltonlima Emma

The Queen has, however, found time for horse riding and has been spotted out in Windsor in recent days. 

Earlier today the Queen donned a cosy tan coloured coat and head scarf as she rode out on her favourite black horse alongside her head groom Terry Pendry.

Throughout the pandemic, head groom Terry has ensured the royal's ponies are ready and that he keeps two metres from his boss during their rides.

All protective disinfectant measures are taken, particularly for the horse's saddle and bridle.

A devoted team of 22 staff have been working throughout this year to provide a protective shield around Elizabeth and Prince Philip, which Windsor Castle colleagues are calling 'HMS Bubble'.

For the last 33 years, the Queen 94, has spent the festive season at Sandringham, where she hosts close family members and enjoys traditions such as the Boxing Day shoot. Pictured, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh with Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Christmas Day in 2017

It includes her favourite page Paul Whybrew – with whom she is so comfortable that they often watch TV together, and who co-starred in her James Bond skit for the London Olympics Opening Ceremony – as well as chefs, cleaners and officials.

Led by master of the household Tony Johnstone-Burt and the queen's private secretary, Edward Young, the team have willingly agreed to live away from their own families for the duration of the lockdown.

It means they can serve the monarch and her husband without needing protective equipment such as gloves and masks, or to abide by social-distancing guidelines. 

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