Queen cancels pre-Christmas family lunch as Omicron surges

Queen cancels pre-Christmas family lunch as Omicron surges
# 16 December 2021 20:19 (UTC +04:00)

The Queen has cancelled her traditional pre-Christmas lunch for extended family as a precautionary measure following the UK's surge in Omicron cases, APA reports citing BBC.

A source said it was felt the annual event could put too many people's Christmas plans at risk.

It follows England chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty's advice to prioritise events "that really matter" to avoid the risk of infection.

The event had been due to take place early next week at Windsor Castle.

The Queen's decision comes as families across the UK consider their Christmas plans in the light of the country's biggest Covid surge yet, with 78,610 cases reported on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to exercise caution in their social contacts, but said he was not cancelling events and denied claims from his own MPs that he was putting the country into lockdown by stealth.

The 95-year-old monarch usually hosts the lunch each year for her wider family before she departs for her Christmas stay at Sandringham in Norfolk.

The pre-Christmas celebration gives the head of state a chance to catch up with relatives who are unable to travel to her country retreat for Christmas Day.

Along with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, guests usually include the Queen's cousins - the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent.

Last year's gathering was also cancelled because of Covid.

This Christmas will be the Queen's first since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, her husband of 73 years.