Queen and Prince Philip found Balmoral 'tedious' due to Covid-19

Queen and Prince Philip found their summer break in Balmoral ‘tedious’ and spent a lot of time ‘sat around twiddling thumbs’ due to Covid-19 restrictions, royal expert claims

  • Royals and staff found summer break in Scotland ‘a bit tedious’ this year
  • Social distancing rules meant it wasn’t as enjoyable as previous years
  • Prince William and Kate are expected to opt out of Christmas at Sandringham 

The Queen and Prince Philip found their summer break in Balmoral ‘a bit tedious’ this year, with social distancing rules due to coronavirus making it less enjoyable, a royal expert has claimed.

The 94-year-old monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, spent six weeks at their Aberdeenshire home before cutting their trip short to travel to Sandringham last month.

The couple spent a further two weeks on the Norfolk estate before her Her Majesty returned to Windsor Castle on Tuesday – with Philip remaining on Wood Farm, where he usually resides since retiring from public life in 2017.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Camilla Tominey told how their move from Scotland to the ‘pared-down’ Sandringham farmhouse was largely as a result of Balmoral ‘becoming a little tiresome without the typical steady stream of visitors’.

The Queen and Prince Philip (pictured together at Windsor Castle in June) found their summer break in Balmoral ‘a bit tedious’ this year, with social distancing rules due to coronavirus making it less enjoyable, a royal expert has claimed

Despite receiving visits from Princess Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Wessexes, it ‘simply wasn’t as enjoyable as usual’ because of the Covid-19 restrictions in place.

An insider told Tominey: ‘It was a bit tedious at times – not just for the staff, but the royals themselves. 

‘Balmoral can sometimes be a little hard going, but coronavirus made things even more difficult. There was quite a lot of time spent sat around, twiddling thumbs.’

The visit saw the Queen’s team of staff – nicknamed HMS Bubble – forced to self-isolate for a fortnight before travelling up to the Scottish Highlands, and banned from social activity once in residence. 

Despite receiving visits from Princess Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Wessexes, the summer break at the Scottish castle (pictured) ‘simply wasn’t as enjoyable as usual’ because of the Covid-19 restrictions in place

Usual highlights including the annual Ghillies Ball were all cancelled due to the pandemic, meaning they had ‘little to occupy themselves while off duty’, wrote Tominey.

She added that a further source told how ‘everyone got pretty bored’ and the Queen and the Duke went to Wood Farm ‘simply for a change of scenery, more than anything else’.

Now ensconced back in Windsor, the Queen is expected to travel to Buckingham Palace for working visits.

Tominey revealed ‘select’ audiences and other small gatherings which adhere to the Rule of Six have been ‘pencilled into the Windsor diary’, adding that there are rumours the Queen will reconvene her weekly meetings with the prime minister in person. 

An aide told the royal expert: ‘Buckingham Palace is a working palace and a symbol of working monarchy. The soft power of the Queen is never better demonstrated than when she is meeting foreign leaders and diplomats there.’

The Royal Family’s annual Christmas celebrations are also up in the air, with the Rule of Six and social distancing restrictions currently providing an obstacle for the annual gathering at Sandringham. Pictured: Prince Charles, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on Christmas Day in 2018

The only public event Her Majesty is currently expected to attend physically is the Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph on November 8 – which this year will mark the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the war memorial in Whitehall and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

The Royal Family’s annual Christmas celebrations are also up in the air, with the Rule of Six and social distancing restrictions currently providing an obstacle for the annual gathering at Sandringham.

Palace aides have described it as a ‘fluid situation’, but Tominey suggested it seems ‘most likely’ the Queen will return to Sandringham.

She added that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are likely to be the first to opt out of joining her and Prince Philip, due to being a family of five, and will instead spend the festive season at their nearby Anmer Hall home.

Tominey suggested Prince Edward, Sophie Wessex and their two children Lady Louise, 16, and Viscount Severn, 12, may end up the only guests, with Princess Anne able to spend Christmas with her children Zara and Peter and their families in their ‘bubble on her Gatcombe estate in Gloucestershire and Prince Andrew keeping a low profile.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expected to remain in California, where they are reportedly planning a festive celebration with close pals David Foster and his pregnant wife Katharine McPhee. 

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