How do Tier 2 and 3 restrictions impact the Royal Family?

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·7-min read

Watch: Queen takes on public engagement outside the royal residences

As the government continues to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, England has been placed into different tiers, with rules about social interaction differing depending on the rate of infection in each area.

The devolved government in Wales has implemented a 17-day ‘firebreak’ which is close to full lockdown and prevents travel in and out of the nation. Scotland has unveiled a five tier system with one level close to full lockdown for the worst hit areas.

The rules impact how people across the country can work and socialise - and the royals are no different.

Here’s how the changes might impact what the Royal Family can do in each nation.

Tier 1

The Queen is currently living in a Tier 1 region, as she moved back to Windsor Castle when she returned from Scotland after a summer break.

However, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has asked to be placed in higher levels of restrictions, so she might soon find herself in Tier 2.

In Tier 1, people must not meet up in groups larger than six people, indoors or outdoors.

There are exemptions for work purposes, and if the Queen was carrying out an engagement, this would be viewed as her work.

So she could continue some engagements inside, but she should keep 2m distance from anyone who is not in her support bubble.

The guidance for work states anyone who can should work from home, but adds: “There is no limit to group size when you are meeting or gathering for work purposes, but workplaces should be set up to meet the COVID-secure guidelines.”

SALISBURY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (C) speak with Dstl Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead (L) as they head back to the Energetics Analysis Centre during their visit to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down science park on October 15, 2020 near Salisbury, England. The Queen and the Duke of Cambridge visited the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) where they were to view displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter intelligence, a demonstration of a Forensic Explosives Investigation and meet staff who were involved in the Salisbury Novichok incident. Her Majesty and His Royal Highness also formally opened the new Energetics Analysis Centre. (Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Staff were tested and social distancing was in place when the Queen visited Porton Down. (Ben Stansall - WPA Pool)

The Queen carried out an engagement last week at Porton Down, and every member of staff who was present was tested for coronavirus before she attended. All were negative.

Prince Charles, her son, and Camilla, his wife, are also in a Tier 1 region, but they have been travelling into London.

Charles and Camilla are understood to be spending most of their time in Highgrove, which is in Gloucestershire, though Camilla may also be at her home in nearby Wiltshire.

At home they can follow these Tier 1 restrictions, but when they enter a Tier 2 area, they have to follow the higher level.

The Queen, Charles and Camilla are all over 70 and so are classed as clinically vulnerable.

During the full lockdown it was advised that they shield - meaning staying at home all the time to avoid coming into contact with the virus.

However that advice was lifted after the first lockdown and is not currently in place, but some experts want it reinstated.

The three older royals would have to avoid public work if they were asked to shield again.

Tier 2

Prince William and his wife Kate are in a Tier 2 region as they live in Kensington Palace, in London.

The couple has been carrying out engagements since returning from a brief break in Scotland, and most of these have been outside.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are careful to follow rules on mask wearing, and cover up when they are in a car, and when they are inside.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meet pharmacist Joyce Duah as they visit St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, to mark the launch of the nationwide 'Hold Still' community photography project, on October 20th, 2020 in London, England.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Tuesday met a small number of staff from the hospital, including pharmacist and photographer Joyce Duah and the two pharmacy technician colleagues she photographed writing on their PPE as they put it on, in a photograph that was selected to be in the set of 100 images taken during the coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
William and Kate wore coverings at this outdoor engagement because they were in a hospital. (Matt Dunham - WPA Pool)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives for the launch of the Hold Still campaign at Waterloo Station on October 20, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Kate has also followed guidelines by wearing coverings inside cars. (Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool)

Read more: Prince William 'delighted' to follow in his mother's footsteps at cancer hospital

The duke was also wearing a mask outside during an engagement on Wednesday, as he was meeting cancer patients at a hospital. They both kept their masks on at St Bartholomew’s Hospital too.

Tier 2 rules about work are similar to Tier 1, as people should work at home if they can, and there’s no limit on the number who can gather for work.

William and Kate, both 38, would usually be driven to engagements and that is now the best way for them to travel, as the guidance asks people to avoid making too many journeys on public transport.

However, they should, when they can, only travel with members of their own household or support bubble.

They can still travel within the Tier 2 region, and to other areas, but if they need to stay anywhere, they can only do so with their own household.

Watch: How will England's three-tier local lockdown system work?

Tier 3

Tier 3 is the highest level of restrictions in place in England, and there are no members of the Royal Family who are in one of these areas.

Restrictions in Tier 3 are tighter, but they don’t add any new rules to working regulations - continuing to ask people to work from home or in COVID-secure environments if they have to.

However the government currently advises that people should not travel in and out of Tier 3 regions.

The government website says: “In addition, we are advising people not to travel into or out of an area if it has been categorised as a very high alert level area. This is part of wider measures to help manage the risk of transmission. You can continue to travel into or out of very high alert level areas if you need to for work, education, to access youth services or because of caring responsibilities.”

Natalie Haywood, DJ Yousef, and Prince William chatted on Monday night. (Kensington Palace)
Prince William video called Natalie Haywood and DJ Yousef in Liverpool as travel into the area is not advised. (Kensington Palace)

Read more: The maps that show if infections are getting higher or lower where you live

While that would technically allow the royals to go to areas at higher levels if they needed to make an engagement, it would be unlikely that they would purposefully schedule an engagement in a Tier 3 area.

After Tier 3 came into place in the Liverpool City region, Prince William held a video call with two business owners to hear how it was impacting them and their hopes of recovery.

With the royals continuing some video engagements with ongoing travel restrictions, this is more likely to be how they will interact with their charities in Tier 3 areas.


Wales is to implement a two-week ‘fire break’ lockdown on Friday, 23 October, from 6pm.

It means everyone is required to stay at home except critical workers or those who cannot work from home.

Non-essential retail shops are being closed and places of worship will be closed except for funerals or weddings. Households can’t mix but bubbles remain in place.

The lockdown will stop the Royal Family carrying out any engagements there, which could impact Charles in his role as the Prince of Wales. He has a home there.

He was in Wales in July, but won’t be able to carry out engagements while there’s a fire break.

Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (C) reacts during his visit to family run travel and holiday business, Edwards Coaches, in Abercynon, near Mountain Ash, south Wales, on July 13, 2020. - The company has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but is now beginning to restart some of their operations. (Photo by Ben Birchall / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BEN BIRCHALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles went to Wales in July for a set of engagements, but won't be able to go there during the fire break. (Ben Birchall/AFP)


The royals have close ties with Scotland and love to spend summer there as well as carrying out regular engagements.

The nation has introduced a five tier system, instead of the three in England.

The highest level is close to a full lockdown, which would prevent the royals taking on engagements in any of those areas.

In levels three and four, the highest, travel around Scotland and into Scotland from other places, is not recommended, and anyone concerned about their workplace, if they can’t work from home, can get a note from their GP.

Prince Charles and Camilla have recently managed to carry out some engagements in Scotland, as Camilla visited shops in Aberdeen in September.

The couple would have to consider the tier the area they want to visit is in before carrying out engagements.

Buckingham Palace has said it continues to follow government guidelines in each region.

Watch: What will happen when the Queen dies?

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