Who will be in the Queen’s Christmas bubble? Monarch will be made to choose between NINE family households – with the Cambridges, Wessexes or Prince Charles most likely to get an invite
- Covid-19 restrictions might pose a challenge to the Royal Family’s celebrations
- The Queen, 94, usually hosts family members for the holiday at Sandringham
- Monarch is regularly joined royals including Prince Charles, 71, and Camilla, 72
- Meanwhile the Cambridges and the Yorks often travel to Norfolk to celebrate
- Restrictions currently allow three households to form a Christmas bubble
The three-household limit on bubbles over the Christmas period may pose a challenge to the Queen’s usual festive celebrations.
For the last 33 years, the monarch, 94, has travelled up to Sandringham for the holidays, where she hosts close family members, after the Christmas party for extended family members at Buckingham Palace in December.
But this year, it is believed the Queen will not travel to Norfolk and instead will spend the holidays in Windsor, where she is currently isolating with Prince Philip, 99, after there was a revolt among workers at the estate because they refused to quarantine away from their own families.
And earlier this week, Boris Johnson confirmed plans that just three households will be able to mix from December 23 to 27 and warned families they must make a ‘personal judgement’ about the risks of Covid-19 to vulnerable loved ones when forming a Christmas bubble.
The news could prove to be a logistical nightmare for the Queen, who is regularly joined by a large number of relatives for the holidays, including her children Prince Charles, 71, Princess Anne, 70, Prince Andrew, 60, and Prince Edward, 56, a host of grandchildren, Prince William, 38, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, and their partners and families.
So how will the royal family celebrate this year, and who will be chosen to mark the festivities in an exclusive three household bubble with the Queen and Prince Philip?
How will the royal family celebrate this year, and who will be chosen to mark the festivities in an exclusive three household bubble with the Queen and Prince Philip?
Queen and Prince Philip, Windsor Castle, Windsor
The three-household limit on bubbles over the Christmas period may pose a challenge to the Queen’s usual festive celebrations – so which members of the royal family will be invited to join the most prestigious Christmas bubble of all?
The Queen and Prince Philip are currently isolating at Windsor Castle, which is located in a Tier-2 area, after leaving Norfolk for the month-long lockdown.
Prince Philip and the Queen have spent the year with a specially screened household dubbed ‘HMS Bubble’.
The Queen and the Duke had a summer holiday at Balmoral in August, but spent less than half their normal 10 weeks in Scotland due to coronavirus restrictions there that limit visits from family and friends.
The Duke then wanted to return to Wood Farm and, in an unusual move, the Queen decided to join him before returning to Windsor last month.
When she returned to Windsor alone at the start of October, the plan was for her to commute between Norfolk, Windsor and Buckingham Palace where she could have official engagements.
Seemingly, however, that has proved unworkable, and her only Royal visit has been a trip to the Porton Down military research laboratory near Salisbury.
Charles and Camilla, Clarence House, London: Likely
Prince Charles, 71, and the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, could spend Christmas with the Queen, 94, and Prince Philip, 99, at their home of WIndsor
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, are currently living at their London residence of Clarence House.
The couple spent the first Covid-19 lockdown at their Aberdeenshire home of Birkhall, where they spent part of the period isolating from one another after Prince Charles tested positive for the illness.
The royals may be invited to bubble with the monarch for the festivities, in which case they might choose to isolate for several weeks isolating ahead of the holiday.
They could then travel from their home in London during the festive period to stay in Windsor with the Queen and Prince Philip, making up just two households.
The choice would mean the Duchess would be highly unlikely to see her own children Tom Parker Bowles and Laura Lopes, who both have their own families.
In 2019, Tom opened up to Town & Country about Christmas and said Camilla usually ‘comes down on Christmas Day straight after the Queen’s speech’ to stay with his family, wife Sara and their two children, Lola, 13, and Freddy, 10.
Meanwhile Camilla’s daughter Laura also has three children: Eliza, 12, and twin boys, Gus and Louis, 11.
Prince William and Kate Middleton, Kensington Palace, London: Likely
Prince William and Kate Middleton, both 38, as well as their children Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two, could join Prince Charles and Camilla and the Queen and Prince Philip to make a complete three household Christmas bubble
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 38, and their children Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two are currently living in Kensington Palace in London, after spending the initial Covid-19 lockdown in Norfolk.
The family could choose to celebrate with the Queen and Prince Philip for Christmas festivities and, if joined by Prince Charles and Camilla, that would complete the royal Christmas bubble.
However, with Prince George and Princess Charlotte believed to be attending school with their fellow classmates as usual, the family may choose not to put their elder family members at any risk.
Instead, Prince William and Kate may spend the festive period at Anmer Hall, or at Kate’s parents in Bucklebury.
Carole and Michael Middleton live in a stunning manor house in Berkshire which they have called home since 2012.
The Duke and Duchess have spent the holidays with Kate’s family before, celebrating with the Middletons in 2012 and in 2016.
However, the Middleton family will be one of those struck by the government’s Covid-19 restrictions this year.
James Middleton and his fiancee Alizee Thevenet making up a third household, and Pippa Middleton and her family make up a fourth, meaning they will be unable to celebrate all together this Christmas.
Prince Edward, Countess Sophie, Lady Louise, Viscount Severn, Bagshot Park, Surrey: Possibly
The Countess of Wessex, 55, who is particularly close to the Queen, may be invited to join the monarch’s Christmas bubble alongside husband Prince Edward and their children Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn
What is a Christmas bubble?
– What is a Christmas bubble and when can I join one?
People will be allowed to form an exclusive Christmas bubble made up of people from no more than three households between December 23 and 27.
This rule applies across the whole of the UK.
Christmas bubbles can only meet in private homes and gardens, places of worship and public outdoor spaces.
– Can I be in more than one Christmas bubble?
No. Christmas bubbles will be fixed for the period they are permitted.
You are also not allowed to change your Christmas bubble once it is formed.
– Is there a limit to how many people can be in a Christmas bubble?
The Cabinet Office guidance only stipulates that the bubble should not include people from more than three households.
However, it highlights that the more people someone sees, the more likely they are to catch or spread Covid-19, and asks the public to be mindful of risks before agreeing to form a bubble.
– Can I stay overnight with my Christmas bubble?
Yes. If someone is in your Christmas bubble, you can visit each other’s homes and stay overnight, including in private rented accommodation.
– Can I travel through different areas and across borders to join a Christmas bubble?
Yes. You are allowed to travel between England’s tiers and the four nations of the UK to meet your Christmas bubble.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex, 55, along with their children Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn, have spent almost the entirety of this year at their home in Bagshot Park, Surrey.
However it is possibly Prince Edward and Sophie will be invited to spend the holidays with the Queen.
Royal insiders have long claimed Sophie is the Queen’s ‘favourite’ daughter-in-law and the two women enjoy a particularly close relationship.
It is often Sophie who’s picked to travel with the Queen when she is attending church services at either Sandringham or Balmoral.
A source told The Sun last year: ‘She is trusted and relied on by the Queen in a way I couldn’t say applied to the Duchess of Cambridge or the Duchess of Cornwall. She is like another daughter to Her Majesty, they are that close.’
The Queen and Sophie’s close bond is said to be down to their similar interests, with the pair often spending Saturday or Sunday evenings together at Windsor, watching old war films and historical documentaries.
Their close bond may mean that Prince Edward and his family are invited to join the Queen’s exclusive bubble this Christmas.
Prince Andrew, Royal Lodge, Windsor: Possibly
Prince Andrew and his former wife Sarah Ferguson, 61, have spent almost all of this year at their home of the Royal Lodge in Windsor.
The Queen’s son is widely regarded as her favourite child and the two are believed to have a particularly close bond.
Last year, Nigel Hawthorne wrote in the Telegraph: ‘Whenever she hears Andrew is by himself in Buckingham Palace, she sends him a hand-written note and he’ll change into a suit and goes up to see her. He’ll greet her with a bow, kissing her hand and both her cheeks.’
According to a palace aide, it’s ‘a little ritual that she adores’.
The Queen also sees her youngest on Sundays after church for drinks before lunch at Royal Lodge, Nigel said.
‘She particularly enjoys it when Beatrice and Eugenie are also there. If Fergie is up, too, she’ll go for a walk with her,’ he revealed.
It is possible that Prince Andrew be invited to spend Christmas with the Queen and Prince Philip amid the Covid-19 restrictions.
However, it would mean Prince Andrew would then be unable to see both his daughters Princess Eugenie, 30, and Princess Beatrice, 32, during the Christmas period.
If Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, 61, joined the Queen’s Christmas bubble, they would then be unable to see both their daughters Princess Beatrice, 32, and Princess Eugenie, 30
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Montecito, California
Prince Harry, 36, and Meghan Markle, 39, are currently living in their $14 million Montecito mansion having stepped back from royal duty in March of this year.
Earlier this month, Vanity Fair’s Katie Nicholl said the Sussexes are excited for their first American Christmas living in California.
It will mark the second year the couple will have spent the holiday away from the Queen and other royals – having reportedly spent the last festive season with the duchess’ mother Doria Ragland and their son Archie in Canada.
It is unlikely Prince Harry, 36, and Meghan Markle, 39, will join the Queen’s Christmas bubble, with the couple currently living in California
The insider explained: ‘Global travel has been made very complicated by the coronavirus pandemic and at the moment the Duke has no plans to travel back to the UK, certainly not before Christmas.’
It is highly unlikely Prince Harry and Meghan will travel to the UK to join the Queen’s Christmas bubble.
Princess Beatrice and Edo Mapelli Mozzi, St. James’s Palace, London: Unlikely
Princess Beatrice and her new husband Edo Mapelli Mozzi will likely be joined in their Christmas bubble by Edo’s son Wolfie. Under government restrictions he would be permitted to move between Edo and mother Dara’s bubbles
Princess Beatrice spent the first lockdown with her then fiance Edo Mapelli Mozzi and future mother-in-law Nikki Shale at her £1.5 million country house near Chipping Norton.
However they have since moved back to their home of St James Palace in London, where they are currently believed to be living.
The couple could visit the Queen and Prince Philip for Christmas, however it would mean Princess Beatrice would be unable to see both her sister and parents.
Princess Beatrice and Edo might also need to be flexible to spend time with his four-year-old son, Wolfie.
The property tycoon shares his young son with his glamorous former fiancée of three-and-a-half years, Dara Huang.
Wolfie plays an important part in Beatrice and Edo’s lives together in the city, with friends previously speaking of the good relationship Beatrice has with her new stepson.
Edo is said to enjoy an amicable relationship with Dara and prides himself on still being an active part of his son’s life.
Under government restrictions, Wolfie could travel between Dara and Edo during the festive period in order to celebrate with both his parents over the holidays.
In England, a childcare bubble is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to children aged 13 or under.
Between December 23 and 27, Dara and Edo could continue to use a childcare bubble but ‘only if reasonably necessary’ and ‘where there are no reasonable alternatives’, Cabinet Office guidance states.
If meeting socially during this period, Edo and Dara would have to form a Christmas bubble, with just one further household permitted to join the grouping.
Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, Frogmore Cottage, Windsor: Unlikely
Mother-to-be Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank would be unable to bubble with the Queen and spend time over the festive period with Eugenie’s parents and sister, as well as Jack’s parents
Mother-to-be Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank may decide to celebrate their first Christmas together in their new home of Frogmore Cottage.
The couple reportedly just moved in the house in Windsor, which is unlikely to need much interior work after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent £2.4 million on it before they left for the US.
Princess Eugenie and Jack may be keen to celebrate with one another’s families ahead of the arrival of their own baby in the spring.
If they are invited to celebrate with the Queen, it would mean Princess Eugenie would then be unable to see her parents or sister Princess Beatrice within her Christmas bubble.
Meanwhile, the couple may instead choose to celebrate with Jack’s side of the family after they faced a difficult few months.
Earlier this year, his father George battled Covid-19 and was put on a ventilator for five weeks.
Princess Anne, Gatcombe Park, Gloucester: Unlikely
The Princess Royal could be invited to spend the holidays with her parents, however it would mean she would be unable to spend time with both her children
Princess Anne is thought to have spent almost the entirety of the pandemic at her home of Gatcombe Park.
The Gloucestershire estate is also home to her children, Peter Phillips, 42, and Zara Tindall, 38, and their respective families.
The princess royal could spend Christmas with her parents, the Queen and Prince Philip, however it would mean she then couldn’t celebrate with both of her own children and grandchildren.
Zara and Mike, Gatcombe Park, Gloucester: Unlikely
Under the Covid-19 Christmas bubble restrictions, Zara and Mike TIndall could spend the festive period with Peter Philip’s family, as well as Zara’s mother Princess Anne
Under the new Covid-19 Christmas bubble restrictions, Zara and Mike, as well as their children Mia and Lena, would be able to spend Christmas with their mother, Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence.
They could also join Peter and Autumn Philips for the celebration, who also live on the estate.
The families are believed to enjoy a particularly close relationship, having daughters of a similar age.
The cousins are regularly seen enjoying days out together and having fun playing at the Gatcombe horse trials each year.
If the Queen invited Zara and Mike to spend Christmas at Sandringham, the couple would be unable to see both Zara’s parents and brother Peter’s family.
Meanwhile the couple may wish to bubble with Mike’s parents Zara and Phillip, who have spent lockdown in West Yorkshire and are in the high risk category.
His father suffering from Parkinson’s and his mother battling with asthma, was ‘great’ but ‘not normal’.
Peter and Autumn, Gatcombe Park, Gloucester: Unlikely
Peter Phillips and his former wife Autumn also live on Gatcombe Park with their family, and are likely to spend the holidays with The Tindalls, whom they enjoy a close relationship
Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips also lives on Gatcombe Park with his family.
The royal announced in February this year that he had separated from wife Autumn after 12 years of marriage.
When news of Autumn and Peter’s split broke, it was suggested that she could take their two daughters Savannah, nine, and Isla, seven, to live in Canada.
However, the family have continued to live at their home in Gloucestershire throughout the pandemic and enjoy a close relationship with their neighbours, The Tindalls.
The family did not join other senior royals at church at Sandringham on Christmas Day.
If they were to spend Christmas with the Queen and Prince Philip, they would be unable to visit Princess Anne and the Tindalls.
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