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Queen Elizabeth cancels long-standing tradition of spending Christmas at Sandringham

File photo: The 95-year-old monarch had intended to follow tradition by spending Christmas at her royal residence in Norfolk, but she's now cancelled those plans amid rising levels of the Omicron variant in the UK. Picture: Reuters

File photo: The 95-year-old monarch had intended to follow tradition by spending Christmas at her royal residence in Norfolk, but she's now cancelled those plans amid rising levels of the Omicron variant in the UK. Picture: Reuters

Published Dec 21, 2021

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Queen Elizabeth has cancelled plans to spend Christmas at her Sandringham estate.

The 95-year-old monarch had intended to follow tradition by spending Christmas at her royal residence in Norfolk, but she's now cancelled those plans amid rising levels of the Omicron variant in the UK.

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The Queen will instead spend Christmas at Windsor Castle, where she'll be joined by other members of the royal family.

The decision "reflects a precautionary approach", according to Buckingham Palace aides, who confirmed to the BBC that it was a personal decision taken by the monarch.

At the moment, it's not yet clear which members of the royal family will join the Queen in Windsor. However, a Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed that "all appropriate guidelines" would be followed.

The move comes amid rapidly rising rates of the Omicron variant in the UK.

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The Queen actually missed church on Sunday to minimise her risks of contracting Covid-19.

The monarch usually attends a service on the Windsor estate every weekend but she opted against going in order to preserve her plans for a family Christmas at Sandringham.

The Queen is in good health but opted to "cut down" on social interactions ahead of the planned family gathering.

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Earlier this month, meanwhile, she cancelled a traditional pre-Christmas lunch because she felt it "could put too many people's Christmas arrangements at risk if it went ahead".

A senior palace source added at the time: "The Queen is regretful, but feels it is the right thing to do."

The monarch usually invites her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to join her for the occasion, and they're also joined by her cousins the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent.

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Last year's gathering was also cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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