Watch: Which royals will be in the Queen’s Christmas bubble?
Like many across the UK this week, the Queen faces a festive conundrum.
Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the government has enforced a limit on the number of households who can meet up over the Christmas period.
Although 25 December is usually seen as a chance for large family gatherings, this year there can only be groups of three households for a five day period.
Those bubbles can’t be changed and can only exist between 23 and 27 December.
The Queen and her husband Prince Philip are already one household - but they have four children, eight great-grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Each of those four children is in their own household, though many of them live close to one another.
Prince Charles and Camilla are currently living in Highgrove, in Gloucestershire, but if they join the Queen’s bubble it could leave Camilla unable to see her grandchildren.
Camilla was previously married to Andrew Parker-Bowles, and her children from that marriage have their own children, meaning there’s another two households in the mix.
The Queen’s daughter Princess Anne lives close to Charles, and her two children, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, live on the same estate but they would still class as separate households.
The Tindalls have two children, as does Peter Phillips. To further complicate the matter of households, Phillips and his wife Autumn split earlier this year, and so are now two households.
However children are allowed to move between households if their parents aren’t together.
Prince Andrew lives in the Royal Lodge on the grounds of Windsor Castle, with his former wife Sarah Ferguson. They are due to get new neighbours as their younger daughter Princess Eugenie moves into Frogmore Cottage, also in the Windsor grounds, with her husband Jack.
Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, lives in Bagshot Park, also close to Windsor, with his wife and their two children, Louise and James.
The Queen also has several grown-up grandchildren with their own families to consider.
Prince William and his wife Kate live in Kensington Palace with their three children, Princes George and Louis, and Princess Charlotte.
Kate’s parents would not usually expect to see their royal grandchildren on Christmas Day, because they would be with the Queen, but with such a limited window this year it may be harder for the Middletons.
And as Kate has two siblings, if they went to the family home in Berkshire it would mean either James and his fiancee or Pippa and her husband couldn’t go.
William’s brother Harry is in California where he lives with wife Meghan and their son Archie. The travel restrictions between the UK and the US means they would be very unlikely to travel for Christmas.
They also missed Christmas with the Queen in 2019, taking an extended break in Canada instead.
As well as Eugenie, Prince Andrew is father to Princess Beatrice, who lives in London with new husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.
He has a son from a former relationship, called Wulfie, so any plans the couple makes is likely to include his time with both of his parents.
Beatrice borrowed a vintage dress from the Queen for her lockdown wedding in July, a sign of their strong relationship, and so she might be keen to see her over the festive season.
The Queen can’t actually be prosecuted if she does break the law, as civil and criminal proceedings can’t be brought against the Sovereign. But she would be careful to follow the restrictions.
Her family members will have to weigh up what it could mean to visit the Queen and Philip, who are 94 and 99 respectively, especially considering many of the younger members will be more likely to have been exposed.
All the royal children will have continued going to school throughout the second lockdown in England, and Charles and Camilla even travelled to Germany for an engagement.
In a normal year, the Queen would have a Christmas celebration at Sandringham in Norfolk, with Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward, William, Harry and many of their immediate family members.
To celebrate with the wider royals beforehand, including all her cousins and their families, she hosts a lunch at Buckingham Palace a few days before Christmas.
The pandemic will put paid to both of those traditions.
It could also mean she stays in Windsor for the first time in many years. The royals used to celebrate Christmas in Windsor Castle, but moved the festivities to Sandringham when Windsor was being rewired in 1988.
It’s stayed in Norfolk since then, with the Queen usually remaining there until after her early February, marking the anniversary of her father’s death and her accession in private.
The Queen will be relieved that churches are to reopen for services once the lockdown in England is over, as she attends church throughout the year but particularly on Christmas Day.
If she is in Sandringham, she will go to St Mary Magdalene, and if she is in Windsor, she’ll go to St George’s Chapel, where Harry married Meghan in 2018.
Crowds tend to gather outside the church in Sandringham on Christmas Day, something that will almost certainly be banned or discouraged this year, as mass gatherings are still not allowed.
The Queen will still record a Christmas Day message, which will be broadcast in the afternoon.
Decisions about who will be with the Queen on Christmas Day are understood to be finalised in the coming weeks.
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