Following backlash from royal aides, Queen Elizabeth has canceled the Christmas walk for 2020. The longstanding tradition sees members of the royal family dressing in their finest and joining together for a public walk to St. Mary Magdalene Church on Christmas morning, where they are often joined by thousands of other mass-goers. But given current restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, Christmas morning will look a little different this time around.
According to a royal reporter for Express, the Queen, 94, has officially “abandoned going to church for the traditional Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the [Sandringham] estate.” This decision, which marks only the third time in the Queen’s life to miss the Christmas Walk, is in part due to the United Kingdom’s current observation of the “Rule of Six” restriction. The rule prohibits any social gatherings of any more than six people at a time, and not even the royal family is exempt. This means that should the “Rule of Six” remain in effect through Christmas, the royal family wouldn’t even be allowed to hold the Christmas Walk given its invitation of crowds every year. But that doesn’t mean all of the Queen’s Christmas plans are off.
Apparently, the Queen is still planning on spending Christmas at her Sandringham Estate with husband Prince Philip. News of her plan comes weeks after a tense “revolt” by over 20 Sandringham staffers who were asked to isolate at the property during the holiday season to create a safe pod for the Queen, Prince Philip, and other royals. According to the Daily Mail, these employees included cleaners, laundry, maintenance workers, and more—all of whom refused to quarantine for a month away from their families.
A source later told the Sun that the Queen was “furious” about her staff’s reaction. “The staff said enough is enough. It is absolutely unprecedented,” the source revealed. “Everybody wants to stay loyal but they feel they’ve been pushed too far by being made to isolate from their families for Christmas.”
So long as the U.K.’s “Rule of Six” remains in effect, however, the Queen’s plans can’t result in the huge family gathering that typically takes place at Sandringham each year anyway. For starters, grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have Christmas plans in America, meaning the Sussexes will skip Christmas in the U.K. again in 2020. Meanwhile, the Queen and Prince Philip may not be allowed to see their other grandson, Prince William, and his family. After all, the Cambridges have three kids: Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. Add William and Kate to the Queen and Philip’s stay, and you’ve already exceeded the “Rule of Six.” It’s unfortunate, but like many families around the world, even the royals will have to make some compromises.
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