What restrictions does the Queen face under lockdown at Balmoral?

The Queen’s visit to Balmoral Castle this summer is likely to be different from normal due to the coronavirus restrictions in place.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman previously said arrangements for the visit in early August “will be in line with the relevant guidelines and advice”.

Visitors from two other households will be able to meet her at a time at Balmoral, under current Scottish Government rules, with a recommendation for a maximum of eight people at a time when inside. This is only possible with social distancing and “strict hygiene measures”.

Guidance indicates four other households will be able to meet the Queen at a time when outside – but with no more than 15 people in total in the group. For both indoors and outdoors, a cap of four households a day has been put in place.

Queen attends church service
Queen attends church service

Crathie Kirk – a regular place of worship for the royal family when they are in residence at the estate – is among the places subject to rules allowing communal prayer for a maximum of 50 people, with two-metre distancing in place.

The Queen will not be able to enjoy the Braemar Gathering as she traditionally does, as coronavirus forced the Highland games to be called off for the first time since 1945.

Queen summer residence at Balmoral 2019
Queen summer residence at Balmoral 2019

It is also unlikely the monarch will be able to host her annual Ghillies Ball, which takes place in the estate’s grand ballroom.

The event is a dance for her neighbours, estate and castle staff during her summer stay at Balmoral, but would contravene the current rules on gatherings.

A review of lockdown measures is to be announced by the Scottish Government on September 10, which could see live indoor events take place with physical distancing and restricted numbers as of September 14.

Currently, face coverings are mandatory across Scotland in circumstances where physical distancing is not easy to maintain.