The Queen has cancelled her traditional pre-Christmas family party next week, throwing more question marks over whether she will host her traditional family get-together in Norfolk.

A Buckingham Palace source confirmed the decision to call off the royal gathering, which comes as Covid cases spike with the surge in the Omicron variant.

It is understood the decision was a precaution with the source suggesting it could put too many people's Christmas arrangements at risk if it went ahead.


Plans were reportedly fully in place at Windsor Castle for next Tuesday's Christmas lunch, which the 95-year-old monarch hosts each year for her extended family.

Last year's gathering was also scrapped because of the Covid-19 crisis.

It comes as sources said no decision had yet been taken on whether the Queen would travel to Sandringham for Christmas, where she usually welcomes her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to join her.

And it follows a stark Downing Street press conference on Wednesday night, when England's chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty, outlined how people should be "prioritising those things - and only those things - that really matter to them" because of the risks posed by the Omicron variant of coronavirus as cases soar.

The pre-Christmas celebration gives the head of state a chance to catch up with relatives who are unable to travel to Norfolk for Christmas Day.

The wider family is also usually invited, including the Queen's cousins the Gloucesters, the Duke of Kent and the Michaels of Kent.

This Christmas is the Queen's first since the death of her husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Queen and Philip spent Christmas Day together at Windsor in 2020, without the rest of the family, after spending most of the year being cared for by a reduced number of staff in what was dubbed HMS Bubble.

She has only been carrying out light duties since October 20 when concerns for her health were heightened after royal doctors ordered her to rest and she spent a night in hospital undergoing tests.