Queen Elizabeth has been pictured inside Windsor Castle as she isolates with Prince Philip for her first Christmas there in 33 years.
As more proof that this year really has been so far from normality, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are abandoning their traditional Christmas with all the family at Sandringham as they play their part in trying to defeat Covid-19.
Instead Queen Elizabeth will enjoy a quiet yuletide with just her husband at Windsor Castle. The royal couple hope to spend time chatting with family over video calls.
The Queen has already been using the technology, as the latest unseen photo of her shows.
She is pictured on a virtual visit to KPMG last week to mark the accounting firm’s 150th anniversary.
She is smiling away at the camera and a small ‘Windsor’ is written at the bottom of her screen, confirming her presence at the Berkshire castle.
It will be strange for the Queen to be away from Sandringham in Norfolk and her family at Christmas for the first time in decades.
But it is hoped the move will inspire others to celebrate the festive period carefully – even though the rules have been relaxed so households can mix.
Palace sources also confirmed that despite official guidance allowing gatherings for worship, the Queen will not attend a church service on Christmas Day to avoid attracting any crowds.
It comes after chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty last week warned against physical contact with elderly relatives over Christmas.
He said: “Don’t do stupid things.
“Would I encourage someone to hug and kiss their elderly relatives? No I would not.”
Royal sources said the 94-year-old Queen made the decision to “lead by example” and ditch the family meet-up, after consulting palace doctors and the rest of the family, including Philip 99.
A Palace source said: “The Queen is acutely aware of the need for caution throughout the crisis and the Christmas period is no different.
“The Queen and The Duke are fortunate to spend Christmas with their family every year.
“They understand that their family will have competing demands over the Christmas period and are content to have a quiet festive season this year.
“Like everyone they hope things will get back to normal in 2021.”
A Palace spokesman added: “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.”
But the couple are expected to see other members of the family, which is likely to be outside in a socially distanced manner due to restrictions.
Guidelines state a maximum of three households can create support bubbles from December 23 to 27 as the tier system rules are relaxed temporarily.
It will be the first time since 1988 the royals will not be on the Norfolk estate at Sandringham, where the Queen stays until February 6 as she likes to mark the anniversary of her father’s death there.
They used to celebrate at Windsor Castle every year until 1987, after which it was closed for a considerable amount of time to be rewired.
In June, the Queen marked her first public appearance on a video call when she was joined by Princess Anne speaking to four care staff via video to mark Carers Week 2020.
She enjoyed the experience so much she joined the Countess of Wessex in October on another one to mark World Sight Day and has spoken to Prince Harry and his son Archie from the United States on video calls.
Palace sources suggested the Queen will make time over the holidays to speak to family members who she will not be able to see in person.
Senior members of the Royal Family are understood to be tested for Covid-19 regularly as will anyone who comes into close contact with them.
Insiders also revealed the monarch wanted Palace staff – who have spent months isolating from their families creating “HMS Bubble” to protect her and Philip – to be given as much opportunity to see their families rather than move with her to Sandringham.
Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said the Queen was right to urge caution in the face of the continued threat of Covid-19.
She added: “ Coronavirus is no respecter of income or status and poses a dangerous threat to everyone in later life.
“No doubt some older people and their families will decide to come together for a spell over Christmas, and hopefully they will have a thoroughly good time within the rules that have been set.
“Many other older people though will be on their own at this time, even greater numbers than usual, so it’s more important than ever that we all do our bit to keep in friendly touch and tell the older people in our lives that they are not forgotten, and that we care.
“If ever there was a year to give Auntie Flo a ring, or pop a Christmas card through an older neighbour’s door with an offer of help if it’s needed, it’s this one.”
The Queen moved to Windsor from Buckingham Palace in March, while Philip left from his retirement home of Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate.
The couple also spent six weeks in Balmoral before returning to Windsor for the second lockdown last month.
It is understood they will see Prince Edward, his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and children Lady Louise Windsor, 17, and James, Viscount Severn, 12.
Prince Charles and Camilla will be at their Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire for Christmas Day but “expect to have a chance to see The Queen and The DoE at Windsor at some point”, according to a Palace source.
But because Camilla will see her family over the festive period, the couple may have to resort to seeing the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in a socially distanced manner in the grounds of Windsor.
Prince William and Kate and their children, George, seven, Charlotte, five and Louis, two, are expected to spend Christmas with her family in Bucklebury, Berkshire.
Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and son Archie will be at their new home in Los Angeles. Prince Andrew and his children Beatrice and Eugenie, who is heavily pregnant, are expected to join with their husbands and mother Sarah Ferguson.
She still lives at the Duke of York’s Royal Lodge home on the Windsor Estate.