- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Prince consort
Each Spring, the Queen takes up residence at Windsor Castle for about a month, in a tradition known as Easter Court.
The monarch is particularly fond of Windsor Castle, in Berkshire, because she spent so much of her childhood there.
It’s also where she spends most of her weekends, having worked in Buckingham Palace through the week.
As Easter is not a set date, the timings of Easter Court vary, but are around March to April every year.
Yahoo UK looks at what the Queen does each year during Easter Court – and how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted 2020’s events.
Each year, the Queen attends a service on Maundy Thursday, and has travelled to every cathedral in the country for the tradition over the years.
Maundy Thursday is the Christian celebration marking the day Jesus shared the final passover with his disciples before he was crucified on Good Friday.
The Queen distributes Maundy money on this day, a tradition which dates back to the reign of Charles II in the 1660s.
According to the palace website: “The Queen travels to a different cathedral across the country to hand out special coins to men and women in recognition for their contribution to their community and church.”
She decided early in her reign to ensure the money went further than London, so has travelled frequently for the service.
In 2017, she went to Leicester Cathedral, the final cathedral she had to go to. Since then, it’s been held in Windsor.
The coins are legal tender but don’t enter circulation, because of their silver content.
According to the Royal Mint: “Today’s recipients of Royal Maundy are elderly men and women, chosen because of the Christian service they have given to the Church and the community.
“There are as many recipients as there are years in the sovereign’s age.”
The coronavirus pandemic has meant the 2020 service won’t be held, so instead the Queen posted the money to the 188 recipients.
She gave 94 men and 94 women 94 coins each.
Dine and sleep events
One of the events the Queen hosts in Windsor over Easter Court is the dine and sleep nights.
Celebrities are invited to have dinner and stay the night in the castle, and previous guests have included Tim Peake, Daniel Craig, and Rachel Weisz. Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter have also attended them in the past.
There are also public figures invited, including people like the head of Eton College.
Bonham Carter recalled the event she attended in the Radio Times. She said: “It’s fun! Rachel Weisz was there with James Bond. I stayed in Prince Charles’s rooms.
“We had supper and the Queen and Prince Philip gave us a tour.”
The events usually appear in the Court Circular. While the Palace hasn’t issued a comment on them for 2020, as they are irregular events, it’s incredibly unlikely the Queen would be inviting anyone around as she shields to ensure she protects her health.
Easter Sunday – her first day off of the year
The Queen receives her red box of government papers every day, no matter where in the world she is.
The only exceptions to this are Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.
So Easter brings one of the two days Her Majesty can have a bit of a break.
The Queen attends the Easter Sunday service at St George’s Chapel, the only public appearance she usually makes over the weekend.
She often spends the weekend in private celebration with her family.
After Church, she is given a bouquet of flowers from local children who attended the service.
Royal watchers will know the chapel well as the venue for several royal weddings - including the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank.
Is there an Easter egg hunt?
The Queen doesn’t take part in an Easter Egg hunt, but there are some held at the palaces by the Royal Collections Trust (RCT).
They have in the past held egg hunt trails in the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace and at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.
The 2020 event had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but RCT had planned an “annual treasure trail around the Royal Mews to win a chocolate prize, and enjoy making sparkling springtime arts and crafts as a family, creating jewel covered Easter egg decorations to take home”.
Read more: The Royal Family's most feminist moments
A monarch’s work
The Queen doesn’t take the month off during Easter Court – she continues with much of her work.
She also continues with investitures ceremonies, so some people who are receiving honours will get them in Windsor Castle instead of Buckingham Palace.
Some who have been honoured there include Martin Clunes and Sir Lenny Henry.
Usually Easter marks a private time for the Queen to celebrate with her family. In 2019, her granddaughter Princess Eugenie attended church with her on Maundy Thursday. Prince Philip attended when he was still carrying out royal duties.
Various family members will usually be with her over the course of the weekend. In 2019, Easter Sunday also coincided with her birthday, making it extra special.
But this year will be much quieter, because of coronavirus. The Queen won’t be able to see any of her grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, because everyone will be keeping their distance to protect themselves, and the monarch, from COVID-19.
While the Queen would usually go back to London about a month after she starts Easter Court, she is likely to stay much longer as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
She left London a week earlier than originally planned and her return date is not set. Prince Philip, her husband, was flown down from Sandringham to join her, and he is unlikely to return as quickly either.