Canada markets closed
  • S&P/TSX

    17,779.41
    -126.61 (-0.71%)
     
  • S&P 500

    3,849.62
    -5.74 (-0.15%)
     
  • DOW

    30,937.04
    -22.96 (-0.07%)
     
  • CAD/USD

    0.7876
    -0.0002 (-0.03%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    52.78
    +0.17 (+0.32%)
     
  • BTC-CAD

    40,673.00
    -592.36 (-1.44%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    647.61
    +0.29 (+0.04%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,847.80
    -3.10 (-0.17%)
     
  • RUSSELL 2000

    2,149.86
    -13.42 (-0.62%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.0400
    0.0000 (0.00%)
     
  • NASDAQ futures

    13,549.50
    +64.00 (+0.47%)
     
  • VOLATILITY

    23.02
    -0.17 (-0.73%)
     
  • FTSE

    6,654.01
    +15.16 (+0.23%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    28,748.68
    +202.50 (+0.71%)
     
  • CAD/EUR

    0.6474
    -0.0001 (-0.02%)
     

The dilemma facing the Queen as she decides her Christmas bubble

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·6 min read

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.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Queen Elizabeth II attends the Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2019 in King's Lynn, United Kingdom. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Queen Elizabeth II at the Christmas Day Church service on the Sandringham estate in 2019. (WireImage)
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25:  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and  Princess Charlotte of Cambridge attend the Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2019 in King's Lynn, United Kingdom. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Charlotte and George made their Christmas Day church service debut in 2019. (WireImage)

Read more: How Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are choosing to speak for themselves

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.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25:  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Meghan and Harry had a royal Christmas in 2018. (WireImage)
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank attend the Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2019 in King's Lynn, United Kingdom. (Photo by UK Press Pool/UK Press via Getty Images)
Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank spent Christmas 2019 with the Queen. (UK Press via Getty Images)

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.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex with James Viscount Severn and Lady Louise Windsor  attend the Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2019 in King's Lynn, United Kingdom. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex with James Viscount Severn and Lady Louise Windsor at the Christmas Day Church service in 2019. (WireImage)
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25:  Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attends the Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2019 in King's Lynn, United Kingdom. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Charles and Camilla with Prince William at the Christmas Day service in 2019. (WireImage)

Read more: The question Meghan Markle wants you to ask your friends

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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Mike Tindall, Lena Elizabeth Tindall and Zara Tindall attend Christmas Lunch at Buckingham Palace on December 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Mike, Lena and Zara Tindall driving to Christmas Lunch at Buckingham Palace in 2019. (/WireImage)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 18: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Princess Beatrice attends a Christmas lunch for members of the Royal Family hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on December 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Princess Beatrice going to Christmas lunch for members of the Royal Family in 2019. (Indigo)

Read more: What tier are you in? Here is the full list of lockdown restrictions for each area

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.

Watch: New COVID restrictions announced: Who is in what tier?