Usually on Christmas Day, there is an abundance of photographs of the British royal family as they make their way en masse to church for the 11 a.m. service on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. However, like all of us this year, the Queen and her descendants are having a very different kind of Christmas and will be marking the day separately and behind closed doors.
In the absence of any public appearances, Clarence House has released a new photograph of Prince Charles and Camilla to celebrate Christmas. It was taken by a member of staff at Birkhall, Scotland, earlier this year, and shows the couple dressed casually and holding walking sticks up to the camera. The Prince is smiling broadly and has a pair of binoculars around his neck. The Duchess is dressed in jeans. Back in July, she revealed during a BBC Radio 5 interview that she has been “very, very happy” wearing denim this year. She told host Emma Barnett: “I've been very, very happy with my jeans. It will be very hard to get out of them again. I think you get into a sort of way of life, don’t you?”
The photograph was taken earlier this year in Scotland, but today Charles and Camilla are spending Christmas Day together at the Prince’s Gloucestershire residence Highgrove. The Duchess had also hoped to see her children and grandchildren over the festive period if restrictions allow, and the couple also indicated earlier this year that they may pay a socially-distanced visit to the Queen and Prince Philip who are spending Christmas quietly at Windsor Castle. The Cambridges are currently at their Norfolk home, Anmer Hall.
Like all families across the UK, the royals are subject to strict restrictions during the festive period because of the increased spread of COVID-19 and confirmation of a new strain believed to be more infectious. The British government had initially said that up to three households could meet indoors for five days across the festive period but changed the rules with less than one week to go until Christmas. The country is now divided into tiers with London and the south east facing the toughest restrictions, which for most means no household mixing at all even on Christmas Day. In other areas, three households are still allowed to meet, but only on Christmas Day itself.
One royal tradition that will continue as usual, however, is the Queen’s Christmas broadcast, which is recorded in advance and will be played to the nation at 3 p.m. in the UK today. She rarely takes part in televised broadcasts outside of this, but earlier this year memorably addressed the nation at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
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