Queen CANCELS family pre-Christmas lunch for 50 people at Windsor Castle ‘with regret’ as a ‘precaution’ to try to save her loved ones’ festive plans
- Queen’s Christmas lunch was scheduled to held on Tuesday at Windsor Castle
- Some 50 or so guests expected to attend including Prince Charles and Camilla
- However it was revealed this morning that the monarch has cancelled meal
- Monarch called off lunch as a ‘precaution’ to try to save loved ones festive plans
- This year marks the Queen’s first Christmas since her husband Philip’s death
The Queen has cancelled her annual Royal Family Christmas lunch on Tuesday ‘with regret’ as a ‘precaution’ to try to save her loved ones festive plans, amid fears over the Omicron Covid variant.
The 95-year-old monarch was planning to welcome 50 or so relatives, including Prince Charles and Camilla, to an event at Windsor Castle next week.
One day after the festive party, the Queen was due to travel by helicopter to Sandringham in Norfolk, where she is set to spend Christmas itself.
However it has now emerged the Queen ‘with regret’ has cancelled her family lunch as a ‘precautionary’ measure, feeling that too many people’s Christmas arrangements were at risk if it went ahead.
Royal sources said ‘there is a belief that it is the right thing to do for all concerned.’
It marks the second year the Queen has cancelled the event, usually held at Buckingham Palace.
Last year she called off the lunch when tougher restrictions were brought in amid the surge of the Delta Covid strain.
It comes as millions of Britons axed their festive plans so they can see family on Christmas Day after Boris Johnson and Chris Whitty triggered a ‘tsunamis of cancellations’ for pubs and restaurants by urging the country only to socialise if necessary – and not in large groups or with strangers.
The Queen has cancelled her annual Royal Family Christmas lunch on Tuesday amid fears over the Omicron Covid variant
Ahead of the announcement, royal expert Camilla Tominey appeared on This Morning today, and told viewers the monarch was considering leaving it ‘up to guests’ over whether they attend.
She said: ‘We thought the Queen was going to have a Christmas party for the extended family in Windsor on Tuesday, we think that’s still going ahead.
‘Then she’s going to go to Sandringham for the traditional celebrations in Norfolk.’
‘But apparently now they’re wavering, like we all are. Maybe it’s going to be about the guests and if people don’t feel comfortable coming, that makes the decision for you.’
The 95-year-old monarch was planning to welcome 50 or so relatives, including Prince Charles and Camilla, to an event at Windsor Castle next week
This year’s event would have seen the family brought together in the largest reunion since the Duke of Edinburgh’s death in April.
While three of her four new grandchildren – August, Lucas and Siena – had been expected to attend the lunch, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and their son Archie and newborn Lilibet, also born this year, will remain in the US.
Meanwhile the Royal Family had been planning to join the Queen at Sandringham on Christmas Eve and gather on December 25, as is tradition, before visiting St Mary Magdalene Church.
It is currently unknown if this will go ahead.
The Queen is currently residing in Windsor Castle, where she remains on ‘light duties’ following multiple health scares in recent weeks.
Royal expert Camilla explained that guests of the Queen’s lunch could decide if they feel ‘comfortable’ themselves attending
The annual Christmas lunch was due to be held at Windsor Castle (pictured) this year, instead of the usual Buckingham Palace
An ITV film crew recorded the Queen’s Christmas Day address several weeks ago.
The Mail reported last week that palace aides were also exploring options for the monarch to appear in public in the run up to December 25 to wish the country a very happy Christmas.
Although photographs and videos have been released by Buckingham Palace of the sovereign undertaking in-person and virtual audiences with foreign ambassadors, dignitaries and the Prime Minister, all meetings have taken place behind palace walls.
The hope is that the Queen will be well enough to take part in a short public engagement in the castle grounds.
The Queen is currently residing in Windsor Castle, where she remains on ‘light duties’ following multiple health scares in recent weeks (pictured earlier this week)
Her appearance will be seen as a ‘small shot of joy’ in difficult times.
‘It won’t be a normal Christmas, but like many families around the country, it will be as normal as it can get,’ a source said.
The Queen was last seen in public at a Windsor Castle reception on October 19. The next day, she cancelled a trip to Northern Ireland and was taken to hospital overnight for undisclosed ‘preliminary tests’.
She was ordered to rest for several weeks and since then has undertaken a small number of low-key engagements, including recording a video message for the Cop26 summit.
It comes as many people across the country started voluntarily self-isolating in a bid to avoid having to isolate on December 25 if they test positive for Covid.
Prof Whitty said that a rise in Omicron hospitalisations is ‘nailed on’ after cases hit a record high yesterday, telling a televised No 10 press briefing: ‘I think that what most people are doing is – and I would think this seems very sensible – is prioritising the social interactions that really matter to them and, to project those ones, de-prioritising ones that matter much less to them.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London
And after weeks of refusing to admit Christmas plans could be under threat, Mr Johnson told the country to cut back on Christmas partying and ‘think carefully’ before going out during the festive season
The Independent SAGE group of scientists and medics has called for an immediate 10-day ‘circuit-breaker’ shutdown, with bans on households mixing and the closure of hospitality firms. They accused the Prime Minister of ‘delaying’ from imposing tighter controls and said the time for ’emergency action’ had now come.
And doubling down on the Prime Minister’s inference that people must be cut back on socialising to avoid catching Covid over Christmas week, Health Minister Gillian Keegan said: ‘Everybody is urging caution. Most of us will know somebody now who’s positive with Covid, and that means if you’ve tested positive, then you’ll be in isolation over Christmas. So that’s bound to make people a bit more cautious.’
She added: ‘Make a sensible choice for yourself, make a sensible choice. You know, if you’re going to go to a party, take a test. If there’s lots of people there you don’t know, if that’s your priority, fine. If your priority is to make it through to Christmas Day with your family then take a different approach’. But then adding to the confusion she later told LBC that Christmas parties can go ahead but people should test beforehand and sit ‘spaced apart’.
At last night’s Downing Street press conference, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and Prime Minister Boris Johnson stoked fears further by encouraging people to scale back their Christmas plans. Prof Whitty even rubbished a major real-world study from South Africa which suggested that the variant was milder, and insisted Omicron ‘is going to be a problem’.
Government scientists have been calling for ‘Plan C’ curbs as they warn there could be 1million daily cases by next month and 4,000 hospital admissions – levels similar to those seen during the January shutdown. However, the projections are heavily disputed.
More than 78,000 people tested positive for Covid yesterday – a 50 per cent jump on last week, and eclipsing the previous record of 68,053 in January.
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