The Queen is set to break a major royal Christmas tradition for the first time in 33 years

Prince Philip and the Queen
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For the first time in over 30 years, the Queen and Prince Philip are going to break the biggest royal Christmas tradition.

The Queen and Prince Philip normally invite their whole family, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to have Christmas at Sandringham House in Norfolk.

But this year, as one Sandringham insider has already said, "We have been told not to expect them back for Christmas."

Sandringham House

Credit: Getty

It comes after the royal couple left Sandringham upon the announcement of the second lockdown and returned to Windsor Castle, where they once again formed the tight safety bubble they had in March - also known as the "HMS Bubble".

It's thought that the main reason for the family not returning to Sandringham for the festive period is the new lockdown restrictions, which came into effect from November 5. Even though they are set to come to an end on December 2, it's thought that further measures will change things for the family as we'll once again enter the three-tier system, where groups of more than six people are largely prohibited.

In previous years, her Majesty and Prince Philip have hosted up to 30 other people at Sandringham House and the whole family has attended the Sandringham Christmas service. If they choose not to do so this year, it will be the first time that Christmas has been had outside the royal residence since 1987.

But opposition by estate workers had already thrown the Queen's plans awry, as some workers are currently refusing to quarantine away from their families and have threatened not to work over the Christmas period. About 20 staff, including cleaners, laundry and maintenance workers, have reportedly complained about the three-week shifts with seven days quarantine in-between, as it would mean they'd have to be away from their families.

This has already meant that the monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh had to spend two weeks together at Sandringham's Wood Farm cottage, instead of at the main house.

A Buckingham Palace spokeperson has said, "No final decision has been taken on Christmas."

While another insider added, "Nothing has been resolved as staff as still refusing to quarantine from their families."

A photo posted by on

If the family don't spend Christmas at Sandringham this year, it's thought that they will stay at Windsor Castle under any Covid guidelines set by the government at the time.

Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a health and wellbeing writer, working across the subjects of family, relationships, and LGBT topics, as well as sleep and mental health. A digital journalist with over six years  experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace is currently Health Editor for and has also worked with Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more. After graduating from the University of Warwick, she started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness.