Christmas will be looking a little different for all of us this year, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the royal family is no exception to that.
As we all know, the royals are big fans of tradition, with conventions in place for births, marriages, deaths, and of course Christmas. However, the pandemic means that many of the royals' usual Christmas plans will need to be adapted this year. So, how will the royals' Christmas change?
1. They won't all be able to go to Sandringham
The royal family traditionally go to Sandringham House in Norfolk for their Christmas celebrations, instead of staying in Buckingham Palace. In previous years, the royals heading to Sandringham for Christmas have included at least the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Prince Charles and Camilla, along with the children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis - not to mention any of the staff members working at Sandringham House and other members of their extended family.
The government has implemented a 'three household' rule for the period between 23-27 December this year, so if the Queen and Prince Philip do want to be joined by any family members, they'll have to pick and choose carefully. The most likely combination would be Prince Charles and Camilla, along with the Cambridges, considering that Meghan and Harry are over in California. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie could come together for a separate Christmas with their husbands and parents, Prince Andrew (who likely wouldn't be making a public appearance anyway on Christmas Day if he were to go to Sandringham) and Sarah Ferguson, and the others could all stay in their own family bubbles. We'll see what decisions are made...
2. The Queen might not take the train to Sandringham
If the Queen does still head to Sandringham for Christmas, it's unlikely she'll take her usual mode of transport. She normally takes the train to Norfolk, hiring a whole carriage of a pre-scheduled public train to King's Lyn to transport herself, Prince Philip and their immediate staff to Sandringham around a week before Christmas.
However, although the Queen usually has her own private carriage on the train, she may not want to take the risk of going on public transport during the pandemic - and may opt for a long drive instead.
3. The Queen and Prince Philip may spend Christmas in Windsor
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the Queen and Prince Philip are thought to have been isolating alongside 22 members of their staff in Windsor Castle. The Queen did take a break during the summer to head to her holiday location in Balmoral, but she's since returned to Windsor and won't be heading back to Buckingham Palace for the time being.
So, it's likely that the Queen, Prince Philip and their staff members may continue isolating and spend Christmas together at Windsor Castle. Though we're sure she'll be able to FaceTime her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, seeing as she's got all the video call skills thanks to the pandemic...
4. The Queen might have to do her Christmas shopping online
The Queen usually does all of her Christmas shopping in person in the luxury department store Harrods, according to reports, with Harrods apparently staying open after hours so that the Queen can shop in private.
However, Harrods temporarily closed on 4th November in line with government guidelines. With the lockdown in England finishing on 2 December, Harrods will be reopening - but is this too late for the Queen to get her presents organised? Instead, she might be left shopping online like the rest of us. Wonder if she's handy with an iPad?
5. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle won't be there
Last year, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle opted to spend Christmas having "private family time in Canada", instead of heading to the UK - and it looks like they won't be coming to the UK for Christmas this year either, even if they had planned on attending.
The US, where Meghan and Harry and Archie currently live, isn’t on the UK’s travel corridors list, so the family would need to self-isolate for two weeks once arriving in the UK - meaning they’d have to fly over well before Christmas.
Meanwhile, at the moment, government travel advice states: "British nationals cannot enter the USA if they have been in the UK [among other countries] within the previous 14 days."
Meghan and Archie are US citizens, while Harry is a British national, meaning that he may not be granted entry back into the US, though this is unclear given that he is a resident in the country. Still, if the family returned to the US from the UK after Christmas, they would still need to self-isolate there for two weeks. With Christmas still weeks away, there's still scope for international travel rules to change, but it's unlikely the Sussexes' plans would change with it.
Despite all the changes, we're sure the royals will still have a very merry Christmas like the rest of us. And then we can start looking forward to Christmas 2021, which is going to be incredible...
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