Royal family spends Christmas apart as tumultuous year comes to end

CBS News December 28, 2020, 8:57 AM

Royal family spends Christmas apart as tumultuous year comes to end

New reports suggest Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are looking to extend their “royal exit,” which comes up for review next year, by another 12 months.

Their current arrangement saw them step back as senior royals in March and move to California, as the coronavirus pandemic forced the entire royal family to remain apart this Christmas, CBS News’ Charlie D’Agata reports.

Queen Elizabeth spent the holiday in Windsor Castle for the first time in 32 years, where she praised the spirit of those challenged by the coronavirus.

In her speech, which marked the celebration with a tinge of sadness, the queen acknowledged, “some mourning the loss of those dear to them, and others missing friends and family members distanced for safety, when all they’d really want for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand.”

Like many around the world — and many great-grandmothers — Queen Elizabeth had to forgo annual festive family gatherings.

Aside from a socially-distanced carol service on the grounds of Windsor Castle earlier in December, the 94-year-old monarch and her 99-year-old husband Philip are spending a “quiet” Christmas alone at the castle.

Before the pandemic hit, another bombshell rocked the royal family of Britain — her younger grandson, Prince Harry, and his wife Meghan Markle “stepping back” from royal duties.

According to Roya Nikkhah, royal correspondent for The Sunday Times, Harry’s absence has been felt during the particularly tumultuous year.

“I think people miss him and people feel sad that he wasn’t here with the rest of the royal family during coronavirus,” Nikkhah said, adding “he’s got that freedom that he and Meghan so desperately wanted.”

The couple quickly dove into charity work, focused on those impacted by COVID-19 .

Their own family has been hit as well — Harry’s father Prince Charles tested positive in March and his brother Prince William later admitted he caught it at around the same time.

“The queen would have been extremely worried, her next two direct heirs were both stricken down with COVID,” Nikkhah said.

However, it did not stop William and Kate from joining the battle against the disease where they could, even taking a royal train tour to support health care workers. The queen, for her part, also jumped in on Zoom calls to health care staff.

Having Harry around would have boosted morale, and his absence was felt most during Remembrance Day — the former soldier had wanted to take part but was left out.

The rest of the royal family are also said to be unhappy about the lucrative deals he and Meghan have struck with Netflix, and an upcoming podcast on Spotify .

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