THIS year Christmas will look a little different for many Brits - and the Queen is no exception.
It has been announced that Her Majesty, 94, has cancelled her usual festive break at Sandringham, and instead will have a “quiet” time at Windsor Castle.
A spokesperson said: “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.”
This will be the first time in 33 years that the Queen won’t be going to Sandringham, where she typically celebrates with her large extended family.
And their popular traditions of a boxing day shoot and big family charade games are also likely to be off the agenda.
So what will the royal Christmas look like this year, given the coronavirus restrictions?
Brits have been told that three households will be able to meet up inside for five days over Christmas - and the Queen has to follow the rules too.
Royal expert Phil Dampier told Fabulous: “She’ll be devastated she can’t spend it with the family. They sometimes have up to over 30 people.
“One year it was so crowded that some of the royals have had to stay in servant’s quarters and servants have had to move out to other accommodation for the royals to stay at Sandringham.
“They couldn’t have a lot of people though as it would set a bad example to the rest of the country.
“Ironically it will be a time for the extended royals to spend time with their other families.”
So will Her Maj extend her bubble to three households, and who could be chosen, given her kids, grandchildren and great-grandchildren typically make up 10 separate households?
Phil advised: “I think the favourites would be Edward and Sophie and their two kids as they are teenagers and fairly responsible. Maybe they could self-isolate a bit before they go round.”
It’s not known who could make up the third house in the bubble, which could be the Cambridges, Prince Charles or his brother Andrew, 60.
Windsor Castle has been decked out the max
The royal family are not known for holding back when it comes to their show-stopping decorations, and this year we can expect dazzling things from Windsor Castle.
A 20ft Christmas tree has been installed for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to enjoy over the festive period together.
A gigantic Norwegian Spruce tree, taken from Windsor Great Park and dressed in 3,000 lights and hundreds of iridescent glass, red and gold mirrored ornaments, has pride of place in the historic St George’s Hall, the castle’s largest room.
From Thursday, 3 December, visitors to Windsor Castle will see the State Apartments transformed with shimmering Christmas trees, twinkling lights and festive garlands.
And as a special touch this year at Windsor, to mark the bicentenary of George IV’s accession to the throne in 1820, the State Dining Room table will be laid with a spectacular display of his silver-gilt Grand Service.
Cancelled family Charades games
Phil said Christmas is one of the Queen’s favourite times of the year, and her favourite pastime is playing games on Christmas Eve.
He said: “What she also loves is on Christmas night they gather and play games. They play charades, blind man’s buff.
“Certainly in the past she would do impressions of people she’d met like Bill Clinton.”
While these could still happen with her bubble, they are sure to be a slightly quieter version of her usual big family games night.
No Boxing Day shoot
When the family are at Sandringham, they like to step out on Boxing Day for a shoot - so this will be off the agenda for 2020.
Sadly up to 30 royals could have legally gathered for the Boxing Day shoot, as it’s classed as an outdoor sport, meaning the Queen could have seen other members of her household.
Phil said Christmas will be “very different and quiet” for the outdoor-loving monarch, particularly as when she “goes to Sandringham she usually stays for several weeks”.
He added: “It’s quite a departure for her.”
No meeting the public on her Christmas Day church outing
Every year, the Queen is seen going to church in Sandringham with her family, where she meets well-wishers who line the paths.
Phil said: “She will probably go to St George’s Chapel in the morning.
“That is a short stroll so she won’t meet any members of the public as she normally does because it is all within the castle grounds.”
However, the royal commentator said we may get photos released of the Queen from the outing.
Cancelled big Christmas Eve black tie event
While many people celebrate December 25 as the big festive day, the royals do things a little different.
Phil said: “In the German tradition, Christmas Eve is the big event. The royals have a big black tie dinner.
“They normally open their presents in the afternoon, and then they get checked for dinner and have a big dinner on Christmas Eve.
“Lunch on Christmas Day is a traditional lunch but is not quite such a big event for them.
“They polish it off in about half an hour and then sit down to watch the Queen’s speech.”
While the royals may still gather in black tie, it is sure to be a far cry from the usual big event that typically takes place.
Queen won’t give staff their annual presents
Each year, the Queen personally gives out a total of 1,500 Christmas puddings, paid for through the Privy purse.
She usually hands these to palace staff, workers in the Court Post Office and Palace police.
The aide told Fabulous: “An equerry will be standing beside her with a list, from which he will quietly whisper the name of each recipient as they step forward, just as they would at a palace investiture ceremony.”
However, this year a palace source revealed that although gifts will be given out, they won’t be done personally by the Queen.
The Royal Household’s website reads: “All members of The Royal Household will receive Christmas presents from The Queen.
“About 1,500 Christmas puddings paid for by The Queen through the Privy Purse are distributed to staff throughout the Palaces, staff in the Court Post Office and Palace police.
“Each pudding is accompanied by a greeting card from The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.”
Staff will bubble to stay with her over Christmas
Phil advised that Her Majesty has a “HMS bubble” made up of people like her dresser, Angela Kelly and Paul Whybrew, her main footman, and a small limited team.
He said: “They will be kept on at Windsor to serve them. There are a couple of chefs and housemaids.
“They’ve been alternating 12 of them on, 12 of them off.
“Her favourite servants I suspect will be there on Christmas Day. Obviously they live nearby or onsite.
“It wouldn’t be much of a hardship for them and they are devoted to her.”
We shared how the Queen has been left upset after servants refuse to work for her over Christmas in four-week Covid bubble.