Her Majesty, the Duke of Edinburgh and their family typically travel to the Norfolk estate every December, where they all gather to celebrate the festive season. But concerns about COVID-19 have changed that this year.
"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," the Palace said in a statement.
Under U.K. government regulations, only three households can meet for gatherings between Dec. 23 and 27 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those three households can also only see each other and may not mix with other households. That makes the Royal Family's traditional Christmas, in which more than three households gather on the Sandringham estate, not possible in 2020.
This will be the first time the Queen and Philip have celebrated Christmas at Windsor since 1987. The 94-year-old monarch and her 99-year-old husband have been very careful since the pandemic was declared in March, mostly spending their time at Windsor.
The Queen usually stays at Sandringham after the New Year and well into February, where she marks the anniversary of the death of her father, King George VI, who passed away there in 1952. It's unknown whether Her Majesty will make any other trips to Sandringham following Christmas, but it seems unlikely.
Since the holidays will be marked "quietly" by the royal couple, it seems unlikely Duchess Kate, Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis will travel to Windsor to spend time with them there. They could celebrate Christmas with Carole and Michael Middleton, the duchess's parents. The Cambridges have done this before, having gone to Berkshire to stay with the Middletons in 2012 and 2016.
Under the current U.K. government guidelines, the Cambridges and Kate's parents could spend Christmas together – but only one other household would be able to join them. It would then either be James Middleton and his fiancee, Alizee Thevenet, or Pippa Middleton and James Matthews and their son, Arthur. James and Alizee have spent the last few weeks in Scotland at the Glen Affric estate, which is owned by the Matthews family. They may opt to continue doing so for Christmas.
Nothing has been confirmed yet regarding the Cambridge or Middleton families' plans.
In an Instagram post for her Party Pieces business earlier this month, Carole opened up about her hopes for the holidays, saying she's looking forward to them, even if they're different this year.
"For me, what really matters is that my family feels connected," she wrote in the post. "I normally let my grandchildren help me decorate the tree. This year, I'll ask them by video call to decide which decoration should go where. It may need to be tastefully rearranged later...!"