Watch: Doctors have approved Queen Elizabeth's annual Christmas party
The Queen has cancelled her pre-Christmas family lunch, despite getting the go-ahead from doctors earlier this week.
The annual event was due to be held at Windsor Castle with 50 guests invited, all members of the extended royal family. Though the Queen is well enough to host, the reason for the sudden cancellation is the fast spreading omicron COVID variant.
Royal sources say that while there is "regret that it is cancelled, there is a belief that it is the right thing to do for all concerned."
The event was also cancelled last year, due to the pandemic restrictions that were in place.
Usually, the traditional gathering is held at Buckingham Palace, but the Queen has lived primarily at Windsor since before Prince Philip's death, and the London palace is undergoing renovation works.
The lunch party is a chance for all branches of the huge family to get together and celebrate, before the Queen's immediate family gathers at Sandringham for Christmas week.
In previous years, guests have included Prince William and Kate and their children, the Queen's granddaughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, and Princess Anne's daughter Zara Tindall with husband Mike, as well as Sophie, the Countess of Wessex and her daughter Lady Louise Windsor, 18, and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and son James, Viscount Severn,13.
The Queen's cousins are always invited too, including the Gloucesters, the Duke of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
The last lunch party was held on the 19th December, 2019, at Buckingham Palace.
Guests included Princess Beatrice, who attended without her then-fiance Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, now her husband, as traditionally, only married partners are invited.
Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Prince Andrew also attended, while Princess Eugenie, arrived with her husband Jack Brooksbank.
The lunch traditionally features a Sandringham-reared turkey 'and all the trimmings' with wine, decorations and crackers, and the Queen is said to look forward to the chance to host her whole family before the smaller Sandringham get-together.
Mike Tindall revealed on his rugby podcast in 2019 that though royal children are always invited, they aren't expected to sit with the adults, and have a separate room where they are served their own festive feast, and added that there are generally around seven tables of ten for the adults.
His co-presenters James Haskell and Alex Payne joked, "Do you find yourself upgrading every year and getting closer to the main table or are you off out the back?
Mike said, "I was on Prince Charles's table, it was lovely."
This year, it was planned that the Queen's newest grandchildren and great-grandchildren, August Brooksbank, Lucas Tindall and Sienna Mapelli Mozzi would join the party, but there was no suggestion that Prince Harry and Meghan would fly over with their children Archie, three, and Lilibet, six months.
The Sussexes are expected to celebrate Christmas in California once again, and there are no public plans for a visit, despite the fact that the Queen has never met Lilibet. The couple last attended the lunch party in 2017 and 2018, for which Meghan dresses up in a lace dress and diamond earrings.
This year's lunch would have been the first hosted by the Queen as a widow, and family were keen to attend and support the matriarch.
Sadly, like so many others' plans this years, it seems the festive lunch is another victim of omicron.
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