Queen Elizabeth Cancels Royal Christmas Event Amid Health Issues
Queen Elizabeth II canceled a royal family pre-Christmas lunch event on Thursday as a health precaution. A palace source told Entertainment Tonight the rise in coronavirus cases in the U.K. was responsible for the event being taken off the Queen’s schedule. The Queen has missed several other events in recent months due to health problems and was hospitalized in October.
The decision to cancel the lunch at Windsor Castle was regrettable, but “there is a belief it is the right thing to do for all concerned,” the source told ET. The decision was a precaution as the COVID-19 Omicron variant spreads in the U.S. The lunch could “put too many people’s Christmas arrangements at risk if it went ahead,” the source said.
The royal family usually gathers at Windsor Castle for lunch before Queen Elizabeth heads to the Sandringham Estate for the holidays. The lunch was also canceled last year due to the pandemic. However, the Queen is still expected to follow Christmas traditions at Sandringham, PEOPLE reported on Dec. 10. It will be a bittersweet holiday season for the family, as it will be the first since Prince Philip’s death in April at 99.
The royal family usually joins Queen Elizabeth at the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, they walk to St. Mary’s Magdalene Church, then return for lunch at Sandringham House. Last year, the Queen stayed at Windsor Castle, where she and Philip quarantined during the pandemic.
Queen Elizabeth started making fewer public appearances this fall out of health concerns. In October, she was hospitalized for tests and her doctors told her she needed to rest for a few days. She also missed the annual Remembrance Day service after straining her back.
The decision to cancel the pre-Christmas lunch comes as the U.K. is seeing another COVID wave. The U.K.’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, advised people to limit gatherings now to help curb the spread of the omicron variant, reports CNN. The U.K. reported its first death linked to the variant on Monday. On Wednesday, the country reported 78,610 new cases, setting a new record for daily infections since the start of the pandemic. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a “tidal wave” of new cases and urged people to get booster shots.