The longest-reigning living monarch Queen Elizabeth II, 94 and Prince Philip, 99 are set to travel to Balmoral this week for their annual summer break. The royals and a select team of staff at Windsor Castle have been under isolation since March.
The couple, who will travel to the Scottish castle via helicopter, are understood to be in good health, however, their ages do make them vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of their arrival, a select team of palace aides were sent to Scotland to make sure things will be in place for the couple's safe stay. An insider revealed that the Balmoral staff are undergoing a two-week quarantine in secure sleeping quarters in the castle's ground to ensure they are free of the infection. The source has also claimed that the staff are not allowed to socialize under quarantine and are going "stir-crazy" due to communal spaces being closed upon them.
The social club and the staff bar are also reported to remain closed as aids at Balmoral prepare for the royal arrival this week.
"Without all the normal facilities which make a stay pleasant for staff, everyone's saying it's like being in Colditz Castle, the prisoner of war camp," the insider told The Sun.
"It's the assignment from hell because there is absolutely nothing people can do,” they added. "The social club remains shut and the staff bar closed. With so little to do they're going stir-crazy."
The Queen and Prince Philip are expected to reside in Balmoral for at least 12 weeks, after which — depending on the state of the pandemic — the Queen may return to Buckingham Palace and the Prince to Wood Farm in Sandringham.
In recent years, the royal couple are known to spend weeks and months apart as the Queen takes care of her royal duties at Buckingham Palace, while the Prince takes off to Norfolk, where he has mostly lived since his retirement.
The couple during their stay at Balmoral are known to welcome guests. However, it is unclear if they will be hosting guests this year, fearing the spread of the infection.
The Queen also usually attends the celebrated Braemer Highland Games, but this year's event is called off like several other events around the world.