Watch: Queen and Philip to spend Christmas at Windsor Castle
The Queen’s Christmas decorations have gone up in Windsor Castle as the monarch prepares to spend her first Christmas there in more than 30 years.
The Queen and Prince Philip have opted for a quiet Christmas in Berkshire, instead of their usual festivities in Norfolk.
The castle is always decorated for the Christmas season, and visitors are able to see it decked out in its splendour, but this is the first time the Queen will see it all on 25 December since 1987.
Windsor Castle was the more traditional home for Christmas celebrations in the 1950s and 1960s, when Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward were small.
But since 1988, they have been held in Sandringham, which was the preferred royal spot for previous kings Edward VII, George V and George VI.
The Royal Collection Trust, which manages Windsor Castle, unveiled the 2020 Christmas scenes on Wednesday.
They include a 20ft tree which was felled from Windsor Great Park.
Visitors to Windsor Castle will be able to see the festive displays from Thursday, 3 December, including shimmering Christmas trees, twinkling lights and garlands.
The main attraction will be the 20ft tree adorned with 3,000 lights and hundreds of iridescent glass, red and gold mirrored ornaments.
It sits in St George’s Hall, the castle’s largest room.
There are also special displays to mark the bicentenary of King George V’s ascension to the throne.
The State Dining Room table has been laid with a display of George V’s silver-gilt Grand Service, which consists of more than 4,000 pieces. Some of them are still used in state banquets now.
As well as the large tree, there are smaller, shimmering trees dotted around the castle, and festive garlands on the staircases.
The castle’s inner hall also features a grand tree.
Christmas trees are grown at both Windsor Castle and on the Sandringham Estate, with the Queen usually getting the first pick of the bunch when she is in Norfolk.
The tree for Windsor Castle has been sourced from the Great Park since the reign of Queen Victoria.
Hundreds of sustainable trees are sold at Windsor Great Park every year.
The photos of the decorations come amid reports the Queen will also have to abandon her tradition of handing out gifts to her staff this year, because of the pandemic.
The Queen usually gives some of her team their Christmas presents in person, including long-serving members or people who have had a good year.
But this year, the Daily Mail reports the presents will be given out by head of department or via royal post because of the rules around the royal bubble.
Windsor Castle is where the Queen usually spends weekends when she is working in London during the week.
But this year, she’s been there most of the time, and was joined by Prince Philip shortly before the UK went into national lockdown in March.
Since they have been there, they have each marked a birthday, and have also celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary.
It’s said to be one of the Queen’s favoured properties, though she is fond of Sandringham and the family Christmases she spends there.
As well as the decorations, visitors to the Berkshire castle can also see the wartime pantomime pictures which were commissioned to cover the bare walls during the Second World War.
During the war, then Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret took part in a series of Christmas pantomimes in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle to raise money for the Royal Household Wool Fund. The fund supplied yarns to make blankets for soldiers on the frontline.
The portraits that usually lined the walls of the Waterloo Chamber had been moved, for safekeeping, and the pantomime pictures were commissioned to make the space more festive.
The pictures, by part-time art student Claude Whatham, were created on the back of wallpaper and are on display in the castle again this Christmas.
They were last on display after the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992.
Christmas trees were first brought into royal homes in the late 18th century by Queen Charlotte, consort to George III.
She brought in a yew tree branch, as was tradition in her native Germany.
But they were popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Tickets for Windsor Castle must be booked in advance.
Watch: The Royal Family at Christmas