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The two times the Queen has missed Christmas Day celebrations

The royals usually gather at Sandringham for the festive period

queen xmas
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
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With the Queen's Christmas plans still to be confirmed by Buckingham Palace amid the coronavirus pandemic, HELLO! has taken a look at the other occasions when the monarch has missed the annual church service in Sandringham.

Her Majesty is thought to have only missed the Christmas Day tradition twice in her reign.

The first instance was in 1953 as she and the Duke of Edinburgh were in Auckland, New Zealand during a lengthy tour of the Commonwealth.

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That year the Queen recorded her Christmas broadcast for the radio at Government House, in which she spoke about her travels with her husband and thanked her hosts for their kind welcome.

The second time the monarch was not present at the Christmas Day service in Sandringham was in 2016, when she was suffering from a "heavy cold".

The Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Prince Harry were among the royals to walk to church that year.

queen philip new zealand 1953© Photo: Getty Images

The Queen and Prince Philip in New Zealand in 1953

The Queen wasn't the only family member absent from the Sandringham service that year – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge opted to celebrate Christmas with Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, in Bucklebury, Berkshire instead.

The royal family traditionally spend Christmas and New Year at Sandringham House, but when the Queen's children were small, they would celebrate the festive season at Windsor Castle.

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royals xmas 2016© Photo: Getty Images

The Queen was absent from the Christmas Day service in 2016

Since 1988, when Windsor Castle was being rewired, the royals have spent Christmas at Norfolk.

HELLO! understands that it is too early for Buckingham Palace to confirm the royal family's plans for this year and a decision will be made closer to Christmas in line with the appropriate government advice at the time.

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