6 Royal Christmas traditions that won't happen this year due to covid-19

The Royal Family have been forced to change their Christmas plans this year

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II posing for a photograph after she recorded her annual Christmas Day message, in Windsor Castle
(Image credit: Photo by Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE PARSONS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The Royal Family are well-known for their various Christmas traditions, from their annual Christmas Day Church service to their black-tie Christmas Eve dinner. 

But with new festive covid-19 restrictions recently announced, it seems that this year will definitely be a Christmas like no other.

The Queen has already been forced to cancel several of the cornerstones that make up the traditional royal Christmas. And with many fundamental festive decisions yet to be made, it’s got us questioning what other Christmas traditions will be lost in 2020.

Here we reveal 6 royal Christmas traditions that won’t be happening this year...

Gathering the Royal Family together

Traditionally the whole Royal Family descends on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk for the festive period. However the new rules only permit three households to mix from December 23-27. These Christmas bubbles must be exclusive over the five-day period. 

As a result, people cannot move from one group to another, meaning the Queen and Prince Philip will be forced to choose between different members of their large family. 

The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, the Duke of York, Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, the Princess Royal and the Earl and Countess of Wessex all typically attend the Queen’s traditional Royal Christmas at Sandringham.

The Queen’s final decision on who will be in her bubble isn’t expected for another couple of weeks, but it’s already clear that Christmas will be a much quieter affair than in previous years. 

And with the 94-year-old monarch’s age placing her in the “at risk” category, she will no doubt be choosing her Christmas bubble wisely.

Christmas Day Service at St Mary Magdalene 

According to The Express, the Queen has reportedly abandoned going to church for the traditional Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church. 

This is believed to be only the third time in the Queen’s 65 year reign that she will miss attending church with her family on Christmas Day. 

She missed the annual service back in 2016 due to a heavy cold and before that, was unable to attend in 1953 as she was abroad. The Queen has celebrated Christmas at Sandringham since 1988, though before this she celebrated at Windsor Castle. 

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene

(Image credit: Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

During this time the family would usually attend the Christmas Day service at St George’s Chapel. As the head of the Church of England, the Queen is expected to attend some form of Christmas Day service as places of worship reopen from 2nd December. 

However where she will choose to attend and exactly who else may be able to attend with her is still yet to be revealed.

Christmas Day Walk 

The decision to cancel the Royal Family’s traditional Christmas Day service reportedly came after concerns about the number of royal fans who would arrive en masse to watch the royals make their annual Christmas walk to and from St Mary Magdalene Church. 

This occasion has always been popular with the public, who often arrive with flowers to wave and even possibly attempt to grab a brief chat as they walk by. And of course - it’s a great chance to get a better look at all those wonderful outfits! 

Spending Christmas at Sandringham 

The current restrictions would allow the Queen and Prince Philip to travel to Sandringham during the five-day festive period. However there has been much speculation about whether the 94-year-old the monarch will choose to make this move, especially after spending England’s second lockdown at the historic Berkshire Windsor Castle. 

A Sandringham insider has reportedly told The Sun: “We have been told not to expect them back for Christmas.” 

The royal couple could decide to stay at Windsor Castle, where they have spent much lockdown with a reduced number of staff dubbed HMS Bubble. 

Windsor Castle

(Image credit: photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

If the Queen remains at Windsor, it would be the first time in more than 30 years that she has spent Christmas at Windsor Castle. In 1960s, the Queen and her young children spent many happy Christmases at Windsor.

But since 1988 when the Berkshire castle was being rewired, royal Christmas have always been celebrated at Sandringham. Whichever castle the Queen chooses, it seems we will have to wait a few weeks more to hear her final decision.

Pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace 

Under the new covid-19 restrictions, the Queen will not be able to host her traditional pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace. This magical occasion usually sees the wider Royal Family gather for a get-together a week or so before Christmas. 

With the Christmas bubble rule and a limit on the mixing of households, it seems this festive family tradition is another the Queen will have to miss out on this year. 

Christmas Eve Black Tie Dinner

Tradition dictates that the family attends a black-tie dinner on Christmas Eve. Here, according to Popsugar, the Queen's favorite cocktail, the "Zaza" is served. This is yet another chance for the wider Royal Family to gather, dress up in all their finery and enjoy each other’s company before the business of the big day. 

Whilst the Queen, Prince Philip and their chosen bubble may indeed dress up for a special Christmas Eve dinner at their chosen castle, it’s unlikely to be quite the same glamorous affair as usual. 

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Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!