THE Queen has had to cancel her annual pre-Christmas family lunch because of the spread of Omicron.
The decision to axe the traditional meal for up to 50 at Windsor Castle was made in a bid to keep the family apart — in the hope that a big festive bash can go ahead at Sandringham.
As she faces her first Christmas without Prince Philip, senior aides say her plans “continue to be under review” and a decision is expected next week.
But some insiders believe the Queen will end up staying at Windsor for the festive season.
Millions of families across the country are also now reviewing their Christmas plans as new figures reveal the number of Covid cases increased by more than 78,000 on Wednesday — the highest daily rise in the pandemic so far.
A senior palace source said of the lunch cancellation for a second year in a row: “The decision is a precautionary one as it is felt to put too many people’s Christmas arrangements at risk if it went ahead.”
Guests were set to travel from across the country to Windsor next Tuesday.
But many are in a vulnerable age group.
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The decision came after England’s Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty urged the nation: “Don’t mix with people you don’t have to.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury celebrated the Queen’s “extraordinary example” on a podcast on leadership
🔵 Read our Royal Family live blog for the latest updates
Dickie Arbiter, the Queen’s former press secretary, said: “The luncheon is very important to the Queen because it is the one time of the year when the whole extended family gets together.
"Having cancelled this lunch I’d be very surprised if she decamped and took her family to Sandringham. Windsor has been a secure bubble since the start of the pandemic.
“The Queen leads by example and expects the rest of the family to follow suit.
“In this very infectious time it is better to be safe than sorry.
"The Queen is 95, Charles and Camilla are in their 70s.
"The Kents and Gloucesters are of an older generation and vulnerable.”
A spokesman for the Queen did not want to comment.
Meanwhile, Prince William has revealed his Christmas wish list — saying his dream would be “no Covid” for just one day.
The Duke of Cambridge, 39, fielded questions from children with cancer at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital.
He spoke of his hopes for a big family Christmas with wife Kate and their kids, pictured in their Christmas card photo, below, and other relatives.
Wills also revealed his favourite festive songs are Feliz Navidad and East 17’s 1994 No1 Stay Another Day.
The prince named Will Ferrell’s 2003 comedy Elf as his all-time Christmas movie but admitted never playing children’s favourite Elf on the Shelf.
He has been president of the Royal Marsden since 2007, a position previously held by his mother Princess Diana.
Asked by a child what he would do if in charge of Christmas Day, he replied: “We’d have to bring everyone together, have a big party, and there would definitely be no Covid.
"And there certainly wouldn’t be any cancer in the world if I was in charge for the day.”
Footie fan Wills added his dream present was for Aston Villa to beat Chelsea at home on Boxing Day.
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