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Queen Elizabeth II, 94, and Prince Philip, 99, have cut short their traditional Balmoral break. Instead of staying in Scotland until the end of the month, the royal couple will relocate to Wood Farm on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk next week.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed: “The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will depart Balmoral Castle during the week commencing 14 September to spend time privately on the Sandringham Estate.
“Subject to the finalisation of the autumn programme, Her Majesty’s intention is to return to Windsor Castle in October and to resume the use of Buckingham Palace for selected audiences and engagements.
“These plans will be kept under review and will, of course, be subject to all relevant guidance and advice.”
Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge’s country home Anmer Hall was a wedding gift from the Queen and is a short distance from Wood Farm.
Anmer Hall is where Kate and William spent lockdown with their children – Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two.
While the Cambridges are understood to be back in the capital as Prince George and Charlotte returned to school this week, they often travel to Norfolk for the weekends and for the school holidays including half-term.
This means that the Cambridges could be seeing more of the Queen and Philip than any other Royal Family members during the couple’s stint at Wood Farm.
Since retiring from public life in 2017, the Duke of Edinburgh has made Wood Farm his main base while the Queen has attended to royal duty at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen and Philip are likely to enjoy long walks in the Sandringham Estate grounds during their time at Wood Farm and may be joined by the Cambridges when they do.
The royal couple are both vulnerable to COVID-19 because of their age and extra cautions have been taken to protect them.
The couple has been isolating with a select number of staff one insider referred to as “HMS Bubble.”
Despite health fears, the Queen still received visits from Royal Family members at Balmoral.
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Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward were the first to visit with their two children – Lady Louise Windsor, 16, and James, Viscount Severn, 12.
Kate and William travelled up to Scotland with their little ones to see the Queen and Philip over the bank holiday weekend.
The visits are understood to have all been carried out in line with Government guidelines about social distancing.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the Queen to change her official base from Buckingham Palace in London to Windsor Castle.
The high rate of coronavirus in the capital means the Queen is expected to avoid carrying out engagements there in future.
Despite rumours, the pandemic could push the Queen into early retirement she is unlikely to ever step down as monarch.
While there is speculation the Queen could hand the crown to Prince Charles when she turns 95, this has been dismissed by constitutional experts.
University College London’s constitution unit states: “For the Queen, abdication is said to be unthinkable, for two reasons.
“The first is the bad example of Edward VIII: his abdication brought the Queen’s father onto the throne, unexpectedly and most reluctantly.
“The second is her declaration on her twenty-first birthday that she would serve for her whole life whether it be long or short.
“She is also said to regard her oath at her coronation as imposing a sacred duty to reign as long as she shall live.”
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