Who is the Queen’s favourite child? It made for an interesting episode in The Crown, when Prince Phillip (played by Tobias Menzies) instantly declared his allegiance to Anne, and accused his wife (Olivia Colman) of favouring Andrew.
In the show, the Queen refused to state a preference, but we may be about to find out who the real-life monarch likes best. Like us all, the Queen will soon have to select her Covid ‘Christmas bubble’.
Traditionally, the royal family descend en masse to the Sandringham estate for a festive stay with the monarch. But this year that won’t be possible.
Under a relaxation of the coronavirus rules, three households can mix from December 23 to 27, but the bubble must be exclusive over the five-day period, meaning people cannot shift from one group to another.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, however, have a large family of four children and eight grandchildren, who are all nearly grown up, along with eight great-grandchildren.
Last year, those joining the monarch in Norfolk included Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William, Kate (Duchess of Cambridge) and their three children, Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice and her partner Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, Princess Anne and Prince Edward with his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
It’s understood the decision on where and with whom the Queen will spend the Christmas period will not be made for another few weeks. The royals will also have to decide whether it is wise to visit the 94-year-old monarch and 99-year-old Philip.
Boris Johnson has warned families they must make a “personal judgment” about the risks of coronavirus to vulnerable loved ones.
Options could include the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall joining the Queen as one third of her bubble. But this would mean Camilla would be unable to see her children and grandchildren.
The Queen may invite her youngest son Edward, with his wife Sophie and their children Lady Louise Windsor, 16, and 12-year-old Viscount Severn, who form one household.
Princess Anne might attend instead or Prince Andrew, but they have grown up children, with whom they might form a bubble.
William and Kate with George, Charlotte and Louis could spend Christmas with the Middleton family in Berkshire.
But Carole and Michael Middleton have two other children as well as Kate – Pippa Matthews and James Middleton, meaning one of the three offspring would not be allowed to gather for the festive celebrations.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who are grieving the loss of their second child after a miscarriage, are thousands of miles away, living in the US.
The restrictions also mean the Queen will not be able to host her traditional pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace when the wider royal family usually gathers each year for a get-together a week or so before Christmas.
Rules would permit the monarch and Philip to move to Sandringham during the five-day period. But they could decide to stay at Windsor Castle, where they have spent much of lockdown being looked after by a reduced number of staff dubbed HMS Bubble.
If the Queen stays at Windsor, it would be the first time in more than 30 years that she has spent Christmas at the historic Berkshire castle.
Wherever the Queen is, she can be expected to attend church on Christmas Day as head of the Church of England.
Places of worship can open in England in all areas from December 2, and people can also meet their Christmas bubble there between December 23 and 27.
It’s unlikely the well-wishers who gather to see the royals each December 25 will be able to do so, in a bid to avoid crowds and the spread of coronavirus.
After a morning visit to church, the family traditionally indulge in turkey, reared at Sandringham, before settling down to the Queen’s Christmas Speech, which is recorded in advance.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the family’s plans for this year.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.