The disappointment is certain to be devastating. The Queen is going to be very disappointed that Sandringham won’t be hosting Christmas for her, despite all of her good intentions.

She will not only be absent for the second consecutive year from Norfolk, the estate that holds so many of her most precious Christmas memories. But, it is also the reality that she will once more be without many of her loved ones.

They will miss them, especially her great-grandchildren.

After an awful year that began with the death of Prince Philip, and which ended in her cancelling public engagements due to a long bout of illness, she was excited about the possibility of hosting a Sandringham family reunion since 2019.

The Queen will be disappointed to not host traditional Christmas festivities at Sandringham this year. Pictured: The Queen with family at Christmas Day service in King's Lynn in 2017

Sandringham’s traditional Christmas celebrations will not be hosted by the Queen this year. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth II with her family during the King’s Lynn Christmas Day Service in 2017.

The US-based prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, as well their children, were absent from the event that was set to become one of the most important royal events in recent years.

Despite the murmurs from royal aides that the Queen will be visited by family over Christmas – with ‘all appropriate guidelines’ followed – it inevitably means that the normal celebrations will be considerably scaled back.

Palace officials insist the Queen’s decision was a personal one and only taken after ‘careful consideration’, which is thought to have included medical advice.

It also seems likely that next year’s Platinum Jubilee events almost certainly featured in the decision-making process.

‘The Jubilee is a significant – and personal – landmark, and Her Majesty wishes to minimise any risk to events,’ says a courtier.

‘Putting herself, potentially, in harm’s way with a big family gathering is one such possible threat.’ Up to 50 family members were set to join the Queen, who had been expected to travel to Sandringham by helicopter either today or tomorrow.

Queen leaves the St Mary Magdalene's church after Royal Family's Christmas service in 2019

After the 2019 Christmas Service, Queen Mary Magdalene leaves St Mary Magdalene church

The arrival of other royal guests was expected by Christmas Eve.

Although not ‘bubbled’ with key staff at Windsor as earlier in the pandemic, special precautions had been taken to keep the Queen safe and Covid-free. Her personal staff is subject to daily lateral-flow testing.

I understand that one servant had tested positive in recent days, but this played no part in the Queen’s decision to remain at Windsor.

However, I do understand that aides were concerned about the possibility of the Queen being exposed to infection with such a big group assembling at Sandringham – the same reason why this week’s wider Royal Family lunch was cancelled.

Now, the question is: Which members of your family will be present with Queen Elizabeth II on Christmas Day?

Prince Andrew may be able to stay close to Windsor, where he is a member of the Royal Lodge. He could also remain with his mother and Prince Edward or the Countess, and their children.

Pictured: The Queen receives the Sultan of Oman and his wife, the first lady of Oman, during an audience at Windsor Castle in one of her most recent official engagements this month

Pictured: The Sultan of Oman receives Queen and first lady of Oman during an audience at Windsor Castle, one of her latest official engagements.

Although the plans are not yet firm, I am told the Queen will ‘not’ be eating her Christmas lunch alone.

Although it was unclear if any family members would still be able to travel to Sandringham House, it is believed that Prince William and the Duchess are planning to stay at Anmer Hall in Norfolk, which is close to Sandringham House.

The Duchess and Prince Charles spent Christmas Day last year at Highgrove in Gloucestershire, where they were hosted by his country estate.

It will be the second consecutive year that Sandringham has been home to the Queen for Christmas.

Christmas was spent in Windsor Castle up until 1980, however, her grandchildren made it necessary for the royals to take over the Norfolk home.

It is still possible that the Queen will be able to travel to spend some of her winter break up at Sandringham – she usually remains there until February 6, which is the anniversary of her father King George VI’s death. It will also mark the 70th anniversary since her accession.