The Queen and Prince Philip traditionally travel to their beloved Scottish residence in late July and remain there until early October, when the monarch resumes her work in London. However, this year the pair took royal watchers by surprise when Buckingham Palace announced they would leave Balmoral by mid-September and spend a few weeks privately on the Sandringham estate.
This decision was taken after both the royals and their staff realised holidaying at Balmoral with restrictions in place to fend off the rising coronavirus infection was leaving them “twiddling thumbs”, according to an insider.
They told the Daily Telegraph: “It was a bit tedious at times – not just for the staff, but the royals themselves.
“Balmoral can sometimes be a little hard going, but coronavirus made things even more difficult.
“There was quite a lot of time spent sat around, twiddling thumbs.”
The Queen and Prince Philip may have been ‘bored’ at Balmoral, an insider said
The Queen usually attends the Braemar Games while at Balmoral
While in Scotland, the Queen attends the much-beloved Braemar Gathering, the most famous highland games in the world.
Every year, the monarch and other senior royals are photographed while watching the games, delighted or in fits of laughter.
While at Balmoral, the Queen also hosts the Ghillies Ball, where her neighbours, guests and royal relatives are invited to celebrate Scottish dancing.
The Queen and Prince Philip self-isolated together during the spring
However, the COVID-19 outbreak and the measures put in place to quash the pandemic have made it impossible for the games to go ahead and the ball to be held.
With all social activities being banned due to the coronavirus pandemic, the elderly royals may have decided to leave early just for “a change of scenery”, another source said.
They claimed: “Everyone got pretty bored.
“I think the Queen and the Duke went to Wood Farm simply for a change of scenery, more than anything else.”
The Queen and Prince Philip spent a few weeks privately in Norfolk
The Queen and Prince Philip left Balmoral earlier than expected this year
After her break in Norfolk with her husband, the Queen returned to Windsor Castle on October 7 and immediately resumed her work.
Earlier this week, the monarch took part in an engagement via video link to speak with eye care specialists from around the world.
On the conference call there was also Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who is currently self-isolating as she has come into contact with a person who later tested positive for COVID-19.
With the Queen back in southern England, she is now bid to travel to Buckingham Palace to carry out a restricted number of face-to-face engagements.
The Queen has returned to Windsor Castle
A source said: “Buckingham Palace is a working palace and a symbol of working monarchy.
“The soft power of the Queen is never better demonstrated than when she is meeting foreign leaders and diplomats there.
“If you can do that at the palace, then it is desirable to do so.”
These engagements would abide by the Government guidance on COVID-19, including the ‘rule of six’.
The Queen could not host any social gathering at Balmoral due to COVID-19
The London palace had been virtually uninhabited since March 19, when the Queen left it to transfer at Windsor Castle with Prince Philip.
Earlier this week, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out the first official audience since the spring.
Kate and Prince William met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and the country’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, who were on an official two-day visit to the UK to sign the Political, Free Trade and Strategic Partnership Agreement with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
— to www.express.co.uk