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Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip won't spend Christmas at Sandringham this year

Britain's Queen Elizabeth, shown here at an Easter service in 2019, will not spend this Christmas at Sandringham Palace due to COVID-19 restrictions. File Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE
Britain's Queen Elizabeth, shown here at an Easter service in 2019, will not spend this Christmas at Sandringham Palace due to COVID-19 restrictions. File Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE

Dec. 1 (UPI) -- British Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip plan to spend their first Christmas in 33 years away from Sandringham Palace due to COVID-19 restrictions, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday.

Like many families, the royal family will break with tradition in how they celebrate the holidays this year.

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Since 1988, the family has spent each Christmas at their 20,000-acre estate in Norfolk, often drawing multiple extended family members. The queen and duke of Edinburgh often stay at the residence through the New Year.

The royal family also traditionally attends a Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham. BBC News said the queen won't attend church on Christmas Day to avoid large crowds of well-wishers.

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The British government has advised people to only visit with up to three other households during the Christmas holiday.

"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 representative told Sky News.

"Like everyone, they hope things will get back to normal in 2021."

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The queen, who is 94, and the duke, who is 99, have largely quarantined since March at Windsor Castle with a scaled-down staff. Their eldest son, Prince Charles, was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in March.

The prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla Bowles, duchess of Cornwall, plan to spend Christmas at their Gloucestershire estate, Highgrove, but are expected to visit with the queen and the duchess' family during the holiday season.

It's unclear where Prince William and Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will spend the holiday.

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