Will the royals gather for their annual Boxing Day shoot?

PA

The Boxing Day shoot is a longstanding royal tradition.

But will it go ahead this year amid the coronavirus pandemic?

The Queen could potentially go to Sandringham – as is usual – during the five-day period in December when rules are relaxed to allow three households to mix.

Like the rest of the nation, the Queen and her relatives will have to carefully choose who to have in their Christmas bubble (Steve Parsons/PA)
Like the rest of the nation, the Queen and her relatives will have to carefully choose who to have in their Christmas bubble (Steve Parsons/PA)

The royals, like everyone else, will have to carefully choose who to have in their festive bubble, as well as where to stay.

The Daily Mail quoted an unnamed source as saying the Earl of Wessex and his family will be in the Queen’s Christmas bubble.

The newspaper also reported that plans are being considered around whether the traditional Boxing Day shoot might be able to take place and whether in that case the Queen could see other members of her family.

Buckingham Palace said reports are “just speculation” and did not confirm any details.

The Government faced criticism earlier this year for exempting grouse shooting and hunting with guns from laws which prohibited groups of more than six people gathering.

Government guidelines, published as the “rule of six” came into force in England, provided an exemption for shooting – including hunting and paintball that requires a shotgun or firearms certificate licence – as an organised sport that can be done with more than five others.

Countryside campaigners said last month that Boxing Day hunts will go ahead on Covid-secure trails without spectators this Christmas.

Duke of Edinburgh
Duke of Edinburgh

The Countryside Alliance said on Friday that shooting in groups, including driven game shooting, can continue in all tiers of restrictions from December 2, when England’s second national lockdown ends, subject to following strict guidance including social distancing and good hygiene.

December 26 for the royals often involves outdoor pursuits such as shooting, riding and walking, with the Duke of Edinburgh – now 99 – traditionally having led the shoot in years gone by.

Last year, those joining the monarch in Norfolk included the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, the Duke of York, Princess Beatrice and her then fiance Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, the Princess Royal and Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex.

The Queen, 94, and Prince Philip could decide to stay at Windsor Castle, where they have spent much of lockdown being looked after by a reduced number of staff dubbed HMS Bubble.

If the Queen remains at Windsor, it will be the first time in more than 30 years that she has spent Christmas at the historic Berkshire castle.

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