Queen showing 'real leadership' with message 'it's alright to miss Christmas', says expert

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read

Watch: Queen and Prince Philip to spend Christmas at Windsor Castle

The Queen and Prince Philip are showing “real leadership” in their decision to spend Christmas quietly at Windsor Castle, according to a royal expert.

Penny Junor, royal biographer and journalist, said the decision by the monarch and her husband would show other vulnerable people it is alright to miss Christmas this year.

The Queen and Philip, at 94 and 99 respectively, are in a vulnerable category for coronavirus.

It’s not yet confirmed if they will have any of their family to stay with them during the five-day window allowed by the UK government.

Prince Charles and Camilla are said to be spending Christmas at Highgrove House, their Gloucestershire home.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25:  Queen Elizabeth II leaves church with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Prince Harry during the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham on December 25, 2014 in King's Lynn, England.  (Photo by Danny Martindale/WireImage)
Royal Christmases have been held in Sandringham for more than 30 years, like this one in 2014. (WireImage)

Of the Queen’s decision, Junor said: “I think it’s very, very sensible.

“I think families at the moment are absolutely torn about what they do at Christmas because the Government has told us that we can go out and meet two other households and socialise with two other households.

“The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are both clinically vulnerable because of their age.

“I think that is showing real leadership in doing the right thing.

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“If getting together at Christmas is going to put elderly people and vulnerable people in danger, probably it’s better to postpone it until we’re all safer.

“I would guess that is what they are doing is sending a message, a clear message to people that it’s alright to miss this Christmas in the hope of having other Christmases to spend with much-loved family.”

The Queen and Philip have four children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, meaning there are competing interests for their Christmas bubbles.

If the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall saw the Queen and Philip it could leave Camilla unable to see her grandchildren.

And Prince William and Kate will have to balance trying to see the Middleton family over the festive season - though with two siblings, Kate’s family could also have to rule out one household.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21:  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive at King's Lynn Station on December 21, 2017 in King's Lynn, England ahead of their Christmas break at Sandringham.  (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at King's Lynn Station in December 2017 ahead of their Christmas break at Sandringham. (Mark Cuthbert/UK Press)

Although Christmas for the Queen would usually include attending two church services on the morning of 25 December, this year she will avoid going to St George’s Chapel so that crowds don’t gather.

Instead she will worship privately at the chapel in Windsor Castle.

Prince Philip has been with the Queen for much of this year, although he usually stays in Wood Farm on the Sandringham estate.

Junor said it was “sweet” that the pair, who recently marked their 73rd wedding anniversary, would be together.

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Junor added: “It’s rather lovely. They are both very Christian and Christmas has real meaning for them. I mean it’s a big sacrifice for them but I think it’s sweet and sends a good message.”

Ordinarily, a Royal Family Christmas would involve all of the Queen’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with presents swapped on Christmas Eve and stockings on Christmas morning.

A lavish lunch is followed by settling down to watch the Christmas broadcast, which the Queen pre-records.

Watch: The Royal Family at Christmas