UK's Queen Elizabeth to stay in Windsor for first Christmas since death of Prince Philip

The British monarch normally hosts family at Sandringham in Norfolk over the holidays

Britain's Queen Elizabeth has decided not to gather her family for Christmas at Sandringham in eastern England, amid concerns about the Omicron coronavirus variant.  AP.
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Queen Elizabeth II has decided to celebrate her first Christmas since the death of her husband Prince Philip at Windsor as a “precautionary” measure amid rising coronavirus cases.

Rather than travel to Sandringham as usual, the Queen will remain at Windsor where she spent last Christmas with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April.

A royal source said the queen would be visited by members of the royal family over the Christmas period after making the “personal” decision to stay at the Berkshire residence.

The head of state normally hosts her large family at Sandringham in Norfolk over the holidays, and they are watched by crowds as they attend church on December 25.

But as coronavirus cases increase rapidly across the country amid the rise of the Omicron variant, the queen will not be attending a public church service on December 25.

The royal source said sensible precautions would be taken by those visiting.

It has not yet been confirmed where the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be spending Christmas.

Elizabeth, 95, is still carrying out only light duties, including online and the occasional in-person audiences, after being ordered to rest by royal doctors and spending a night in hospital for tests on October 20.

She also sprained her back and was advised to pull out of attending several events, including the Remembrance Sunday service.

She has spent much of this year at Windsor Castle, where she and Philip remained after Christmas throughout the lockdowns.

The duke, her husband of 74 years, died on April 9, and his funeral was held during coronavirus restrictions within the confines of the castle.

During the 1960s, when the Queen’s children were young, many Christmases were celebrated at Windsor, but since 1988, royal Christmases returned to Sandringham.

Updated: December 20, 2021, 8:08 PM