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The Queen will consult her family over numbers at the planned Windsor Castle Christmas party before making a decision on whether it will go ahead.

Plans are fully in place for the festive lunch the monarch hosts each year for her extended family, and preparations are underway.

But the monarch is still to make a final decision on whether to hold her traditional pre-Christmas family get together next Tuesday.

Royal sources say it is "unlikely" for the event to go ahead in full form, if at all, in the face of rising Covid cases and a surge in the Omicron variant.

Her Majesty, who is not planning to host Christmas for her immediate family at Sandringham in Norfolk, is understood to be considering whether holding the party with a reduced guest list would work, the Mirror reports.

Both gatherings last year were unable to take place because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Most years, the Queen invites her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to join her at Buckingham Palace before she departs for her annual Christmas stay at Sandringham.

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.

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

A royal source said: "The Queen has been very much looking forward to both the party and welcoming her family for Christmas at Sandringham.

"The Windsor party is very much in the balance and everything is focused on being able to enjoy Christmas in the safest way possible. The Queen is very mindful of the rapid rates of coronavirus in the community and will take the appropriate measures."

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It is understood that any of the guests at the Christmas party or Sandringham holidays will be asked to take a lateral flow test before coming.

Members of the royal family take regular Covid tests in line with their work.

Senior royals have agreed to rally round the monarch in the lead up to the festive period, as it will be her first Christmas since the death of her beloved husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

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The 95-year-old monarch The Queen is still carrying out only light duties, including virtual and the occasional in-person audiences, after being ordered to rest by royal doctors and spending a night in hospital undergoing tests on October 20.

On Wednesday, the monarch welcomed the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq al Said and his wife The Honourable Lady Sayyida Ahad Bint Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Busaidiyah to Windsor Castle.

The monarch, wearing a pale blue dress, her trademark pearls and a sapphire brooch, was pictured smiling and shaking hands with the Sultan at her Berkshire castle.

  • Queen
  • Royal Family
  • Christmas

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