The Queen has cancelled her traditional Christmas family lunch party as cases of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus surge across the UK.
A Buckingham Palace source confirmed the decision to call off the royal gathering due to concerns around the spread of the highly transmissible new strain.
It is the second year running the event has been scrapped due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The 95-year-old monarch hosts the traditional party each year for her extended family.
Plans had reportedly been for it to go ahead next Tuesday at Windsor Castle.
It is understood the decision to cancel was a precaution, with the Palace source suggesting the lunch could put too many people’s Christmas arrangements at risk.
It comes after weeks of worry over the Queen's health after she was told to rest up following an overnight stay in hospital.
She has mainly been carrying out light duties and virtual meetings since.
The Queen usually invites her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to join her at Buckingham Palace for a Christmas lunch before she departs for her annual stay at Sandringham.
The pre-Christmas celebration gives the head of state a chance to catch up with relatives who are unable to travel to Norfolk for Christmas Day.
The wider family is also usually invited, including the Queen’s cousins the Gloucesters, the Duke of Kent and the Michaels of Kent.
Downing Street has also said it is likely that the Prime Minister’s audiences with the Queen will move to being virtual.
Asked whether Boris Johnson would continue to meet the Queen in person, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “That will be a matter for the royal family.
“I’m not aware of them not being… I think they will probably be moved virtually but that’ll be a matter for the palace.”