The Queen has decided to cancel a traditional pre-Christmas lunch with other members of the Royal Family amid fears over spiking COVID cases across the UK.
A Buckingham Palace source confirmed the decision to call off the royal gathering, which comes as the Omicron variant spreads across the country.
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It is understood the decision was a precaution with the source suggesting it could put too many people’s Christmas arrangements at risk if it went ahead.
Plans were reportedly fully in place at Windsor Castle for next Tuesday’s Christmas lunch, which the 95-year-old monarch hosts each year for her extended family.
Last year’s gathering was also scrapped because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Most years, the Queen invites her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to join her at Buckingham Palace before she departs for her annual Christmas stay at Sandringham.
The palace is undergoing major renovation works at present.
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The pre-Christmas celebration gives the head of state a chance to catch up with relatives who are unable to travel to Norfolk for Christmas Day.
The wider family is also usually invited, including the Queen’s cousins the Gloucesters, the Duke of Kent and the Michaels of Kent.
This Christmas is the Queen’s first since the death of her husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Queen and Philip spent Christmas Day together at Windsor in 2020, without the rest of the family.
It came after they spent most of the year being cared for by a reduced number of staff in what was dubbed HMS Bubble.
The Queen has only been carrying out light duties since 20 October when concerns for her health were heightened after royal doctors ordered her to rest and she spent a night in hospital undergoing tests.