The Real Reason Queen Elizabeth Left Windsor Castle

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Queen Elizabeth has been spending all of her time at Windsor Castle. Located under 25 miles from London, the estate is the queen's new home base.

Prince Philip's funeral was held at St. George's Chapel at Windsor, and he is buried within the castle grounds, according to Insider. And, when doctors requested that Elizabeth take some time off for her health, she chose to stay at Windsor instead of returning to Buckingham Palace (via Reuters).

The rest of the royal family has also been spending more time at Windsor to be closer to the queen. In November 2021, Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, held a joint christening for their son, August, and his cousin Lucas, the son of Zara and Mike Tindall, at the Royal Chapel of All Saint in Windsor. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson were in attendance, along with Princess Anne, Prince William, and Kate Middleton (per People).

In fact, royal sources claim that Queen Elizabeth doesn't have any intention of living full-time at Buckingham Palace again and will instead make Windsor Castle her main residence, only traveling to London for important engagements. "There is a desire to get Buckingham Palace up and running again as a working palace, but only if all the relevant advice suggests that it is appropriate to do so," a source told the Daily Mail.

However, the queen recently left Windsor Castle — for this particular reason.

Queen Elizabeth left Windsor for the holidays

While Queen Elizabeth seems to have made Windsor Castle her permanent home, she did leave the estate for the holiday season, traveling via helicopter to her beloved country home, Sandringham. 

According to the Daily Mirror, doctors gave the queen permission to make the trip, and she is "delighted" to be spending Christmas there. It was especially meaningful for her to be with family after the passing of Prince Philip earlier in the year. 

"This year, more than ever, it is incredibly important to Her Majesty to be surrounded by her loved ones," a source told the Daily Mirror, adding that "after being forced to cancel a host of engagements, the family get-together will be the perfect tonic."

Some of the royal family members who will reportedly be spending Christmas with the queen include Prince William, Kate Middleton, and their three children; Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla; Prince Edward; Princess Anne; and Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, along with their children and partners (per the Daily Mail). 

But, despite it being the queen's first holiday without her husband, sources revealed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will not be making the trip across the pond to join her.

"There's a lot that goes into the logistics and the planning of the family Christmas, so of course, staff know that Harry and Meghan are not coming," a source told Page Six. "If they were, they would have communicated it to their family by now."

Queen Elizabeth was committed to spending the holidays with her family

Although recent health issues kept her from attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and her country's National Day of Remembrance event, per NBC News, Queen Elizabeth was adamant that she would be spending her holidays with family. "The Queen has told everyone she is feeling far better of late and is very much looking forward to welcoming them for Christmas," a source told the Daily Mail. "Like many other families, this will be the first time Her Majesty can gather with her extended family after being kept apart for so long due to the coronavirus pandemic."

In fact, she even left for Sandringham early so she can oversee preparations for everyone's arrival, with sources revealing to Daily Express that there is "much preparation to be done" before the holidays, and that those close to the queen believe that she was "far better off" in Sandringham to "oversee everything as much as possible." The royal family have several traditions that they keep for the holidays, including exchanging presents on Christmas Eve and even giving one another cheap gag gifts. Meghan Markle reportedly once gave the queen a singing hamster, while Kate Middleton presented Prince Harry with a "grow your own girlfriend" kit during his single days (per Insider).

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle don't want to cause a media frenzy

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aren't expected to spend Christmas with the royal family, despite the fact that they haven't celebrated in Sandringham since 2018. "But this is Her Majesty's first Christmas without her husband, so one would have hoped they would want to be with her," a source told Page Six. The couple's decision to remain in the states during the holiday season isn't due to any hard feelings between them and the queen. Instead, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are reportedly staying away in order to avoid the publicity, especially since this would be Meghan's first visit to Great Britain since she and Harry stepped down from their royal duties in 2020. "I think everyone understands there will be a frenzy when they both come back to the UK, but they need to rip the [Band-Aid] off and get on with it," a source said.

While Harry and Meghan are expected to attend Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022, some believe that is likely to cause more issues. "If that is the first time they are back in the country since Megxit, and they suck all the oxygen from the Queen, that will be just terrible," one person explained.