In normal times, Queen Elizabeth welcomes thousands of volunteers, public sector workers, and more to the grounds of her residences for garden parties every year; four such events are staged in total, with three taking place at Buckingham Palace and one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. But now, the ongoing pandemic has forced these celebrations to cancel for the second year in a row.
Buckingham Palace has made the difficult decision to call off the summer events, as COVID-19 and the UK's public health precautions have made it impossible to plan such large celebrations. Just yesterday, the government instituted a new lockdown, shuttering in-person schools and colleges and advising the public to stay at home (except for exercise, medical needs, food shopping, and work, for those who can't telecommute).
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the guidelines will be in effect until mid-February at least, per the BBC, warning that the next few weeks would be the "hardest yet," as case counts continue to surge. He went on to add that he thought the UK was beginning "the last phase of the struggle."
Last year, when the garden parties were officially canceled in mid-March, royal staffers clearly hoped that they would be able to resume in 2021. "Guests already invited to these Garden Parties will be asked to attend in 2021," read a statement Buckingham Palace issued the time.
The Queen has also yet to move back into Buckingham Palace, the seat of the monarchy, since the coronavirus crisis began last spring. She and Prince Philip have been staying together, using Windsor Castle as a home base and spending weeks-long stints at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
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