The United Kingdom’s 95-year-old monarch has been at the center of widespread speculation regarding her health.
This week, Queen Elizabeth II contributed to those concerns upon canceling her annual family Christmas gathering at the royal Sandringham estate.
“The right thing to do for all concerned”
According to the BBC, the queen’s advanced age combined with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the decision to forego the annual celebration.
This marks the second year in a row that the pandemic has been cited as the cause for canceling the royal family gathering. Instead of the traditional outing, the queen is expected to receive visitors at the castle in Windsor on Christmas Day.
An unnamed Buckingham Palace source told Fox News that the “precautionary” measure is believed to be “the right thing to do for all concerned.”
The queen’s extended family had regularly spent the holiday at Sandringham in eastern England prior to COVID-19. Per family tradition, relatives opened presents on Christmas Eve and gathered for service the following morning at St. Mary Magdalene Church.
This year’s circumstances have also led to the cancelation of the queen’s pre-Christmas lunch at the palace, where she would typically host a gathering of family for a celebration.
Another year of disrupted traditions
On a more personal note, this is also the queen’s first holiday season without her late husband Prince Philip, who died in April at the age of 99.
While public health concerns have received much of the blame for the scaled-back celebration, some believe the queen’s health might have also been a factor. She has reportedly struggled in recent months, including a short hospital stay in October.
As The Guardian reported, it is unclear which relatives will visit Windsor Castle over the Christmas season. The planned gathering does not involve any public events or church service.
Only a few royal family members live near the castle and formal Christmas plans have not been confirmed for any of them as of this writing.
This development is sure to be a disappointment to the queen and others who looked forward to resuming the Christmas tradition. Hopefully, the royal family — and the rest of the world — can resume normal holiday traditions in 2022.