By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(LONDON) — Like millions of families around the world, Britain’s royal family plans to celebrate Christmas differently this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The family will break a decades-long tradition of spending Christmas at Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth’s estate in Norfolk.
Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth, 94, and Prince Philip, 99, will instead spend the Christmas holiday at Windsor Castle, their home outside London where they have spent much of their time since March, when the United Kingdom began its first stay-at-home orders.
“Having considered all the appropriate advice, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said in a statement.
Windsor Castle has debuted its Christmas decorations, traditional holiday decor that will take on even more significance this year with the queen and Philip staying there.
In years past, the queen and Philip would welcome family members to Sandringham, where they oversee a multi-day Christmas celebration.
The royal family traditionally holds their gift exchange on Christmas Eve, following the German tradition, where they often swap funny or homemade gifts.
On Christmas Day, the family walks to St. Mary Magdalene Church for the Christmas service. Last year, Prince William and Kate’s two oldest children, 7-year-old Prince George and 5-year-old Princess Charlotte, joined the family’s walk for the first time.
After the service, the royals enjoy a Christmas lunch at Sandringham and then gather to watch Queen Elizabeth II deliver her annual Christmas message.
In the evening, the royal family will get together again for a Christmas buffet dinner with 15 to 20 different delicacies prepared by the queen’s chef.
On the day after Christmas, known as Boxing Day in the U.K., the royals traditionally partake in a pheasant shoot on the grounds of Sandringham.
Prince William and Kate, also the parents of 2-year-old Prince Louis, will spend Christmas with their children at Anmer Hall, their country estate in Norfolk.
Kate’s mom, Carole Middleton, who with her husband Michael owns a party supply company, shared in an Instagram post that she is figuring out ways to virtually celebrate the Christmas holidays with her grandchildren.
“For me, what really matters is that my family feels connected,” she wrote. “I normally let my grandchildren help me decorate the tree. This year, I’ll ask them by video call to decide which decoration should go where. It may need to be tastefully rearranged later…!”
William’s younger brother, Prince Harry, and his wife Meghan and their 19-month-old son Archie, are expected to celebrate Christmas in California, where they now live. Last year the family of three skipped the Sandringham festivities and instead spent Christmas together in Canada with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland.
Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla have also not yet publicly announced their Christmas plans.
Charles and William both tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year, although neither were reported to have suffered serious complications.
The father and son, along with Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family, were last seen together in public in early December at Windsor Castle, where they gathered together for the first time in person since the start of the pandemic.
Harry and Meghan’s last in-person gathering with the family was in early March when they attended the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.
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