Out of an abundance of caution and due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will not be heading to their Sandringham estate for Christmas this year.

Buckingham Palace confirmed that the sovereign and the Duke of Edinburgh will instead stay put at Windsor Castle as the United Kingdom continues to slow down the spread of the novel virus. Medical experts and scientists are currently advising against unnecessary travel and private gatherings between individuals while the globe works to combat the enduring pandemic.

“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,” read a statement from a Buckingham Palace spokesperson.

Under normal circumstances, members of the royal family come together every year for a traditional public walk to church for a Christmas Day service, followed by a lavish family lunch at the queen’s Sandringham estate. In the past, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, as well as Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, have joined in on the public procession and royal tradition.

It’s unconfirmed for now whether or not the queen will have visits from some of her family members at Windsor Castle come Christmas Day, but the concept isn’t being entirely ruled out just yet. In the U.K. between the days of December 23 and 27, the current lockdown rules will be temporarily relaxed, allowing up to three families to meet indoors for the holiday.

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