Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are still going on their favorite summer vacation this year, as they prepare for their annual holiday at Balmoral Castle. This year’s Balmoral getaway, however, is going to be very different from the past, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Queen Elizabeth, who is 94, and Prince Philip, who is 99, are in the at-risk age group for coronavirus, and have been carefully following COVID-19 protocol at Windsor Castle. They will live in a “Balmoral bubble” with the same staff of 22 people they’ve been with at Windsor Castle, according to the Times. That means family members like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, won’t be able to visit as they normally would.
Queen Elizabeth reportedly won’t be hosting guests within Balmoral Castle, which is a major departure from years past. The Queen usually expects her entire family to visit her at some point over the summer, so she can spend time with all the royals.
She won’t be having anyone stay within the castle, though some royal family members will still come visit her in Scotland. They will stay at different homes on the grounds, and if they eat with the Queen, it’ll be outdoors.
Prince William and Kate Middleton, who have been living at Anmer Hall, usually visit the Queen with their three children and if they do travel to Balmoral this year, perhaps they’ll once again stay at Tam-na-Ghar, a three-bedroom cottage on the estate that’s close to Prince Charles’ home, Birkhall, so they’re a safe distance away.
It’s less likely that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will manage to get to Balmoral this year. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex accepted the Queen’s invitation for a summer visit to Balmoral earlier this year; it would have been Archie’s first time at the Scottish estate. Prince Harry and Meghan are now living in Los Angeles, however, where coronavirus cases are sharply increasing. There are also major travel restrictions in place for anyone from the U.S. traveling to the U.K., and it would be super risky for the Sussexes to make the journey and see the Queen.
Surely newlywed Princess Beatrice will stop by to see her grandmother at Balmoral. Beatrice and her now-husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, got married in a secret, low-key wedding at Windsor last Friday, with the Queen and Prince Philip in attendance. Perhaps the Queen will host a small, socially distant celebration in honor of her granddaughter’s nuptials at Balmoral, so the rest of the family can join in on the festivities—while keeping a safe distance, of course.