When it comes to Christmas, it’s rare for the royal family to deviate from tradition.
So customary is the clan’s trip to Sandringham House, that’s it’s near impossible to imagine the likes of Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Kate Middleton, Prince William, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles not walking into St Mary Magdalene Church in Norfolk.
However, with social distancing restrictions in place across the UK last year, Christmas was anything but business-as-usual for the family.
Weeks before December 25 Boris Johnson and the UK government announced a tier system for different regions and boroughs across England which restricted mixing with other households indoors) and later allowed a five-day break over Christmas Day during which a maximum of three households were able to celebrate together indoors.
Considering Sandringham is a full-blown affair with multiple factions of the royal family usually in attendance, including visiting church together on Christmas Day, the news thwarted the royals festive plans for 2020.
However, this Christmas is set to be a royal family affair, as the majority of restrictions have been lifted, and the Queen is determined to host her loved ones in Sandringham this year.
Here's how the royal family will be spending Christmas this year:
The Queen has told her family that she is feeling much better, after having suffered a bout of ill health, and is looking forward to hosting Christmas at Sandringham this year, according to the Daily Mail.
A source told the publication: 'The Queen has told everyone she is feeling far better of late and is very much looking forward to welcoming them for Christmas.
'Like many other families, this will be the first time Her Majesty can gather with her extended family after being kept apart for so long due to the coronavirus pandemic.'
The news comes after Her Majesty had to take at least two weeks off work, under doctor's advice, due to a period of ill health that came after the loss of her husband, Prince Philip. The Queen is reportedly planning to travel to her Norfolk estate for this year's festivities, by taking a 50-minute helicopter ride from Windsor, on December 17, according to the publication.
Other royals expected to be at the Queen's Christmas celebrations are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with their three children, George, Charlotte and Louis. The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall are also belived to be joining them.
Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenine, along with their children and partners, have been sent invites, per the report.
Prior to the news that the Queen is set to host Christmas, a source told The Mirror: 'Her Majesty is resting under doctors’ orders with the intention of being able to fully enjoy the company of her extended family over the holiday period.
'After being forced to cancel a host of engagements, the family get-together will be the perfect tonic.'
'This year, more than ever, it is incredibly important to Her Majesty to be surrounded by her loved ones,' the source continued. 'The Queen is totally committed to hosting everyone as she hopes to make it back to full health in the coming weeks.'
Last year the Palace announced in a statement that the Queen and Prince Philip had opted to stay in Windsor Castle instead of heading to Norfolk.
'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,' a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said at the time.
Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are said to be joining in with the Queen's Christmas celebrations at Sandringham with their three children.
Over the years, Kate and William have split their time during the festive period with both of their families.
In 2016, the parents – who were yet to welcome Louis – attended a church service in Berkshire with their two eldest children and Kate’s family.
Two years later, Kate’s mother Carole opened up about her plans for Christmas, explaining to the Telegraph: ‘I try not to be too set when it comes to the schedule.
‘Generally, we go to church in the morning, then a walk, open a few presents (with more in the evening). Then champagne and smoked salmon for lunch, and the main Christmas meal in the evening – but with young grandchildren, maybe we’ll move that forward and have it at lunchtime.’
Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Archie and Lili
During Markle's Ellen DeGeneres show interview in November, the Duchess of Sussex revealed her husband and two children will celebrate Thanksgiving in Montecito, California.
'I love to cook,' she said. 'We’ll be home and just sort of relax and settle in. It’s our second Thanksgiving at home in California. It’ll be nice, it’ll be really nice.
'We moved here during lockdown, exactly when things shut down, so we've just been able to spend a lot of time at home and creating our home, but I think it's just the lifestyle and the weather is pretty great. But we're just happy.'
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are rumoured to be planning to travel back to the UK for the Christmas, along with their children, Archie and Lili. The visit will mark the first time members of the royal family will meet Lili following her birth earlier this summer.
Last year the family spent the holidays at their home in Montecito, California.
In December 2019, a month before they announced they would be stepping back as senior working royals and during what was was referred to as a 'break', the couple spent Christmas in Canada with their son Archie (for whom, it was his first Christmas) and Markle's mother, Doria.
As explained at the time by a spokesperson, it was one of the first Christmases the Duke of Sussex had not spent at Sandringham.
'Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, Their Royal Highnesses will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess’ mother Doria Ragland. This decision is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family, and has the support of Her Majesty The Queen,' a spokesperson said.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall
The Prince of Wales and Camilla are also expected to be at the Queen's Sandringham estate this Christmas.
Last year, Instead of heading to Sandringham like usual, the Prince of Wales and Camilla spent Christmas Day at their country home of Highgrove.
When the family are together at Sandringham, the royals usually exchange their presents to each other on Christmas Eve, in honour of their German heritage.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will be at Highgrove for Christmas Day but expect to see the Queen and Philip at Windsor at some point. Camilla will also see her family over the festive period. Meetings may be socially distanced or outside to adhere to govt rules.
— Richard Palmer (@RoyalReporter) December 1, 2020
The official royal website confirms: ‘On Christmas Eve, the royal family lay out their presents on trestle tables and will exchange their gifts at teatime.’
It’s also believed that they follow a tradition of gifting each other joke presents. Last year, The Sun reported that Markle once gifted the Queen a singing hamster, while one of Prince Charles’ favourite gifts is rumoured to have been a white leather toilet seat from his sister, Princess Anne.
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