THE Queen is planning to host her first Christmas without Prince Philip in 73 years – with the Royals missing out on his special festive traditions.
Royal experts have revealed the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, was in charge of the Christmas activities for the whole family – including topping their tree with a star.
It is the first year that Her Majesty, 95, signed her Christmas cards alone, with the two senior royals usually hand-signing more than 700 every year since 1952.
The Duke of Edinburgh even had his own list of reciprocants to send festive cards to, who will also not get a letter for the very first time after his death on 9 April.
Last year, The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent Christmas alone in Windsor Castle due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year she will host a small Christmas dinner with Prince Charles and Camilla at Windsor Castle.
And Royal author Adam Helliker believes there is no one who will fill the boots of the “head of the family” during the festive period.
He told the Sun: “It’s obviously going to be a difficult year for the Queen. Christmas is a big set piece in their year and he was always half of her.
“They never used stencilling for their Christmas cards, the Queen would do her’s and then take them over to his desk for him to sign.
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“Last year would have been the last one from him, and both of them. He even had his own separate list for some of his own organisations and it was important for him to do.
“Usually he would be the one to put the big gold star on the tree at Balmoral or Sandringham as the finishing touch.
“Last year he wasn’t able to do it, being so frail, and they spent Christmas alone at Windsor so it wasn’t quite the same.
“But they all got used to him doing it, it was his job, and I’m sure he put his input in last year of where it should be placed.
“He was always a very big character, as they have said themselves he would always be in charge of the family BBQ’s and it was the same around Christmas with the decorations.”
Earlier this year Her Majesty faced her first wedding anniversary without Prince Philip after his tragic death.
The royal couple would have celebrated 74 years of marriage with the Duke of Edinburgh on November 20 after they wed in 1947.
During the festive period they would have hosted a meal for extended family at Buckingham Palace two weeks before Christmas.
Mr Helliker added: “The meal will be quite different, she has had him by her side all her life and he would recognise small signs such as a raised eyebrow or her holding her handbag.
“Her small trusted circle has been getting slowly smaller, and only he would have understood some of the silent communication from her.
“She would raise an eyebrow to change the conversation or hold her bag to indicate that it was time to go.
“He was a dominant figure in her life and apart from Her Majesty was probably the most important person in a royal room.
“Prince Philip was a big male prescenes and he was effectively head of the family, on Christmas Eve he would tell the children when they could open their presents.
“When he said off you go it was a fun element that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren would remember, but not all of them will get to experience that now.
“I think that there isn’t anyone who can quite fill the role as he did, Charles does not have quite the same manner.
Usually he would be the one to put the big gold star on the tree at Balmoral or Sandringham as the finishing touch.
“He had a strong character so you would notice when he is not there. Philip was always by her side and she cuts a particularly lone figure without him.
“I believe that she will have a nod to him in her speech, some reference to the pair of them in a picture on her desk.
“She will know that his death was not only a blow to her but a lot of people in the country, and he was a massive part of the monarchy who is no longer there.”
Yesterday it was revealed that the Queen will spend Christmas with just Prince Charles and Camilla after Princess Anne was forced to cancel over Covid.
It comes after Her Majesty, 95, was forced to scrap her traditional trip to Sandringham, Norfolk, as the UK battles rapidly rising cases of the Omicron variant.
Anne, 71, will not be able to spend Christmas Day with the monarch as planned as her husband Sir Timothy Laurence has tested positive for Covid.
It's understood retired Royal Navy vice admiral Sir Timothy, 66, and the Princess Royal are isolating at the Gatcombe Park Estate in Gloucestershire.
But Her Majesty will be surrounded by her family – with Charles and Camilla joining her for dinner.
The Queen had been due to host The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, among 50 or so other members of the Royal Family, at Windsor Castle On Tuesday.
Three of her four new grandchildren — August, Lucas and Siena — all born this year, had been expected to join the party.
But US-based Prince Harry, Meghan, Archie and their daughter Lilibet, who was also born this year, were not scheduled to fly over for the bash.
Instead the Sussexes will spend the holidays at their £11million California mansion with Archie, two, and five-month-old Lilibet to avoid a "media frenzy" upon their return to England.
Today it was also revealed that a service of thanksgiving to honour Prince Philip will take place next year.
The Queen agreed the event celebrating the Duke of Edinburgh's life and achievements will take place in Spring at Westminster Abbey.
The congregation will include family, friends and dignitaries with further details to be announced soon.
Representatives from the charities and organisations Prince Philip was associated with will also be in attendance.
Following his death in April, the monarch said she and her family were in a "period of great sadness" but were touched by tributes paid to him.
Philip was laid to rest in April in Windsor Castle as the Queen was seen sitting alone in silent mourning for her husband of more than 70 years.
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