The COVID-19 pandemic is changing a lot of things in 2020, and also the protocol for Queen Elizabeth's summer holiday at Balmoral this year. In 2020, things will undoubtedly be different for Her Majesty and Prince Philip, who traveled to Scotland at the beginning of August (usually they get there in July) and might just stay at the castle through October.
Everything is different for the Queen inside the "Balmoral bubble"
Since the pandemic is far from over in the U.K. (and in many other places!), everything will be different for Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral for the duration of the summer. While the lockdown was in effect in spring, the size of the staff at Windsor Castle was reduced for the Queen and her husband, and all possible precautions were taken to ensure the royal couple's safety.
All measures from the so-called "Windsor bubble" have now been put in place in Scotland as well, creating a "Balmoral bubble" around the Queen and Prince Philip. Seeing how she is 94 years old, it might just make sense for her to stay in said bubble until the fall. A spokesperson for the royal family said: "The couple have remained in Windsor for the entire pandemic lockdown and will move to the Aberdeenshire estate following all relevant government guidelines and advice."
In the past, Her Majesty has traditionally welcomed different family members to Balmoral during her stay, but the protocol for those family visits is also changing in times of COVID-19. Precautions will also be in place when visitors come to the estate, just like at Princess Beatrice's recent secret wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, when the happy couple was photographed with the Queen and Prince Philip standing at a safe distance from them.
At least, most of the summer activities that the royals are fond of do take place outside, like horseback riding, hunting, and fishing, and that minimizes the risk of infection already. But it still does not mean that Prince William, Duchess Catherine, and their kids will definitely come up from Norfolk this summer as they've done in the past - no visits have officially been confirmed yet.
Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla are also in Scotland already, spending their summer break at their Birkhall home which is located on the Balmoral estate. So Queen Elizabeth II will have some company aside from the staff and her husband, but things sure are different this summer at Balmoral for her!