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The Queen will host the annual Royal Family Christmas lunch on Tuesday despite fears over the Omicron Covid variant, sources have revealed.
The 95-year-old monarch is pressing on with the event at Windsor Castle, which is expected to welcome 50 or so relatives, including Prince Charles and Camilla.
And while three of her four new grandchildren – August (pictured), Lucas and Siena – are expected to attend, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and their son Archie and newborn Lilibet, also born this year, will remain in the US.
The Queen’s late husband Prince Phillip will also be noticeably absent, in what will be her first Christmas without him in 73 years after he died in April aged 99.
The Queen’s annual Christmas lunch, usually held at Buckingham Palace, had to be called off last year when tougher restrictions were brought in amid the surge of the Delta Covid strain. But moves to cancel the event this year are reportedly being resisted.
One day after the festive party, which will feature wine, crackers and a feast, the Queen will travel by helicopter to Sandringham (pictured) in Norfolk, where she will spend Christmas itself.
The Royal Family will later join her there on Christmas Eve and gather on December 25, as is tradition, before visiting St Mary Magdalene Church.
A source told the Sun : ‘Currently it is going ahead but obviously it will be under review right up until the last moment.’
The Queen is currently residing in Windsor Castle (pictured), where she remains on ‘light duties’ following multiple health scares in recent weeks.
An insider added: ‘It is Windsor Castle so it will be pretty easy to socially distance if needed. There is no way the Queen wants to let anything get in the way of a family event like this. Particularly with the year she has had after losing her husband and being forced to go on light duties on doctor’s orders.’
‘It will likely be the first time so many family members have been together since Philip’s funeral,’ the source continued. ‘But obviously everyone must act responsibly and things can change in a short period of time but as it stands they’re all set for Tuesday.’
An ITV film crew recorded the Queen’s Christmas Day address (not pictured) 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. 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 canceled 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.
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