THE Queen will have a low-key Christmas involving a "hard core" of key Royals, no games of charades and limited gift-giving as she scales back celebrations amid fears over Omicron, experts claim.
Instead of spending the festive season in Sandringham – her favourite country retreat – the monarch will stay in Windsor Castle for the first Christmas without her "strength and stay" Prince Philip.
The 95-year-old Monarch's celebrations are set to include a "hard core" of Royals, including Prince William and Kate Middleton and Prince Charles and Camilla, royal experts told the Sun.
Instead of the usual 30-person celebration, the Queen will have no more than 15 family members gathering this year as the Omicron variant tears through Britain.
The usual post-lunch parlour games will be called off, and generous gift-giving scaled back, it is understood.
Royal commentator Phil Dampier told The Sun: "Obviously it's going to be much smaller and it's going to be similar to last year.
"Except obviously, the one big difference is that Prince Philip is not going to be there.
"It wouldn't surprise me if Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince Andrew and possible Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex and maybe some others – a small hard core of people – join her for lunch.
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"But I think it's more likely to be a dozen people rather than the 30 or so up at Sandringham.
"At Windsor you've probably got a tailor-made bubble of people who are regularly tested and who will be able to cope with a smaller number of people.
"So they work shifts where there's a certain number of people on and a certain number of people off.
"I can't believe that she'll be on her own completely. So I'm sure that some members of the family will join her on the day."
Explaining what the day will entail, Mr Dampier told of a 1pm Christmas lunch before the family gather to watch the Queen's speech.
He added: "They will probably have some sort of church service, or religious service in the morning, be it in the private chapel inside the castle or be it in St George's chapel.
"It's more likely to be in the private chapel. There is a very small private chapel inside the castle.
"And then I suspect they will have drinks as normal before lunch. "
It is unlikely, however, that the Queen will join in on the boozing, after she opted to give up alcohol ahead of her Platinum Jubilee next year.
"Then they tend to sit down for lunch at 1pm – and they don't hang about," Mr Dampier added.
"They get through it in an hour and a half – two hours at most – so that they can then watch her speech at 3pm.
"Of course they open their presents in the German tradition on Christmas Eve. So I suspect there will be a certain amount of that.
"Again it's going to be very scaled down. And obviously normally there would be lots of children running about and opening up their presents.
"The kids tend to have quite expensive, serious presents and the adults tend to give each other joke-y presents, cheap ones.
"But I think all of that will go out the window.
"They just won't want people mixing very much."
On what food will be enjoyed by the Firm, Mr Dampier said it will likely involve fresh meat and fish from the Queen's estates.
He said: "They have food that's from the royal estates. So you might have something like lamb, or salmon from Scotland.
"Although obviously that could be curtailed. The Christmas lunch itself is normally a traditional one.
"And then in the evening they used to play games of charades and things – but again I think that will be out of the window.
"And obviously there won't be a shoot on boxing day morning which there would have been up at Sandringham.
"Everything is going to be very low key and very scaled down."
Last Christmas was the first in 32 years that Her Majesty had not been at Sandringham for the holiday.
She spent the big day shielding at Windsor with her late husband Prince Philip, who died in April aged 99.
And this year's scenes look set to be rather similar, with the Firm avoiding contact with as many people as possible as daily infections in the UK again soar past 90,000.
It is not known for certain who will join her on December 25 as family members vow to keep the head of state safe amid rising cases.
The Queen has already pulled the plug on her festive family party amid virus panic.
It was announced last week that it was "with regret" her annual royal get-together lunch in the run up to the big day would not be going ahead as planned – but that it was "the right thing to do".
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