Queen's Christmas 2021 plans—who will she be spending the festive season with this year and could it be her quietest yet?

The Queen’s Christmas 2021 celebrations might feature fewer royals than you might expect...

 Queen Elizabeth II prior to the recording of her Christmas Day broadcast to the Commonwealth
(Image credit: Photo by John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Queen’s Christmas 2021 plans might not have been confirmed, but given all that’s gone on this past year the question of which royals could be joining her for the festive period will be on many fans’ minds. 

The Queen’s Christmas 2021 celebrations are yet to begin, but that won’t stop many people from wondering just what the monarch has planned for her first Christmas since Prince Philip’s death. After recently being advised to “rest”, recent reports have suggested that the Queen is “looking forward” to hosting her extended family at Sandringham in Norfolk again this year. In 2020, she and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated “quietly” together at Windsor Castle instead.

With just days to go until Christmas 2021, we’ll soon discover which royals will be celebrating with Her Majesty. Though there are already some intriguing hints based on recent events and past attendance that could suggest who will join the Queen for Christmas this year. And it seems it could potentially be one of her quietest ever royal Christmases...

Who will the Queen spend Christmas 2021 with? 

Over the years there are certain senior royals who’ve consistently attended Christmas at Sandringham and for the Queen’s Christmas 2021 celebrations, it’s thought they’re highly likely to do so again. Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla are amongst them and as the heir to the throne and first in the royal line of succession, the Prince of Wales takes his public and family commitments very seriously. 

Timothy Laurence, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Autumn Phillips, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Peter Phillips arrive at Sandringham estate

(Image credit: Photo by Danny Martindale/WireImage via Getty)

Just as importantly, Christmas 2021 marks the first festive season since Prince Philip passed away and Prince Charles will likely be determined to support his mother at this poignant time. Another of the Queen’s children, Princess Anne, also regularly joins Her Majesty for Christmas, often accompanied by her husband Timothy Laurence. 

Given the sad undertone of this year’s gathering without the Duke of Edinburgh and since it’s thought the Queen will host a “most memorable" Christmas to make up for last year, the Princess Royal is expected to attend. Alongside his older siblings, Prince Edward and his family could also be on the Queen’s Christmas 2021 invite list. 

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex with James Viscount Severn and Lady Louise Windsor attend the Christmas Day Church service

(Image credit: Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex are often said to be the Queen’s “favorites”. Their daughter Lady Louise Windsor was also known to be especially close to Prince Philip, sharing his love of carriage-driving. For the first Christmas without him, Lady Louise and her brother James, Viscount Severn might well want to be close to their beloved grandmother and reflect on happy Christmas memories with him. 

Another of the Queen’s grandchildren is believed very likely to attend a possible Sandringham Christmas in 2021. Prince William and Kate Middleton and their children have previously traveled to Norfolk to celebrate with the monarch. 

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

(Image credit: Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

It’s thought that Kate places “duty before self” to spend Christmas with the Queen instead of the Middletons, after previously alternating where the Cambridges celebrated. As senior members of the Royal Family, they will no doubt also be keen to support the Queen at this time of year, as well as spend some lovely quality time with her away from public scrutiny. It could also mark Prince Louis' first Christmas Day walk to church, having been too young to go back in 2019.

Who might not be joining the Queen’s Christmas 2021 celebrations?

It's not yet been officially confirmed exactly who might not be attending the Queen’s Christmas 2021 celebrations this year. However, recent reports have suggested that despite hopes from fans that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could bring Lilibet and Archie Mountbatten-Windsor to the UK for a royal Christmas, they won’t join the Queen after all. Instead, it’s claimed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will stay in the US for the festivities, marking their first Christmas since the birth of their daughter in June this year. 

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene

(Image credit: Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

Though likely a little disappointing for the royals who’ve yet to meet Lilibet in person, given the distance and how young she still is, it’s perhaps understandable that they may prefer to wait until she’s older before making the flight. But whilst fans might not get to see little Lilibet making the annual Christmas Day church walk, it’s thought the first picture of Lilibet could be featured as part of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Christmas card.

Lilibet isn’t the only royal baby born this year, however, and the Queen might sadly miss out on seeing several more of her great-grandchildren at Christmas. Mike and Zara Tindall welcomed a son, Lucas Philip Tindall, in 2021. The Queen’s granddaughter has previously joined her at Sandringham, though in 2019—the last time the royals gathered en masse for Christmas—the Tindalls weren’t present. 

Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall leave the Christmas Day service at Sandringham on December 25, 2013 in King's Lynn, England

(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

This year with their son still very young, they could decide to remain at home in Gatcombe Park rather than making the journey to Norfolk. Zara’s brother Peter Phillips has also missed Sandringham in the past and with this year marking his first Christmas since he and Autumn Phillips finalized their divorce, he might well choose to remain at home to allow both to see their daughters Savannah and Isla easily for the festive period.

Another notable royal who will likely not be present at Sandringham for the Queen’s Christmas 2021 celebrations is Prince Andrew. It’s claimed he has no way back to royal life after stepping down from royal duties following the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. And amid reports that Virginia Giuffre had made allegations about him in a federal court in New York, he’s been rarely glimpsed in public in recent months. 

Queen Elizabeth and Princess Beatrice attend the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

If Prince Andrew does remain at the Royal Lodge for Christmas, he may not be the only one of the Yorks to miss Sandringham. Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank will be celebrating their first ever Christmas with their son August, as will Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi with their daughter Sienna. 

And with Princess Beatrice and Edoardo no doubt also keen to spend time with Edoardo’s son Wolfie from a previous relationship, spending time in Norfolk could perhaps make things tricky. Both sisters might well end up electing to spend Christmas at home with their own families this year, or else only visiting Sandringham for a limited amount of time. 

When will the Queen be heading to Sandringham? 

In previous years the Queen has gone to Sandringham for Christmas a few days before the big day itself. Her Majesty typically travels by her luxurious Royal Train to King’s Lynn Station in the town of King’s Lynn, Norfolk. For the last Sandringham Christmas in 2019, Marie Claire reports that the monarch arrived on Friday, December 20th, giving her five days to prepare for Christmas Day itself.

Queen Elizabeth II arrives at King's Lynn station, after taking the train from London King's Cross

(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

If she once again follows this pattern this year, then the Queen could well depart Windsor Castle for Sandringham House on Monday December 20th. According to Metro.co.uk, she’s expected to make the journey by helicopter this year in light of her recent health woes. This comes after the monarch previously had a trip to Sandringham via helicopter in November, reportedly to start planning the festivities. 

Whether or not the Queen's Christmas 2021 celebrations see her joined by just a few select royals for various reasons, or the majority of the Royal Family, fans will no doubt be eager to spot them during the annual Christmas Day walk once again. 

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!