Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip Announce Unusual Move After They Leave Balmoral This Month

Queen Elizabeth won't return to Buckingham Palace in October — and she's making a stop at another royal residence before returning to Windsor Castle

Queen Elizabeth is adding an unexpected stop before she returns to Windsor Castle after her summer break in Scotland ends.

The 94-year-old monarch and husband Prince Philip, 99, will depart Balmoral Castle later this month to "spend time privately on the Sandringham Estate," a palace spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE Tuesday.

They added that it's the Queen "intention" to return to Windsor Castle in October, where she and Prince Philip spent much of the spring and summer amid the coronavirus pandemic. The monarch will return to Buckingham Palace in London for "selected audiences and engagements."

The Queen usually heads back to her London residence at Buckingham Palace at the beginning of October following her annual break at Balmoral in Scotland. Sandringham, located about 100 miles north of London in Norfolk, is traditionally used by Queen Elizabeth and the royal family for entertaining over Christmas and for her winter break. She doesn't typically visit her home in Norfolk following her summer stay in Scotland.

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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Windsor Castle. Steve Parsons/PA
Sandringham House
Sandringham House. Indigo/Getty Images

The time away from Buckingham Palace will be the longest she has been away from the central seat of the monarchy during her 68-year-old reign, says The Sunday Times.

A royal source was quoted by the Times as saying, "There is a desire to get Buckingham Palace up and running again as a working palace, but only if all the relevant advice suggests that it is appropriate to do so."

Plans are also being made for how she and other royals can safely attend the annual Remembrance Day events in central London in November.

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Queen Elizabeth. Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images

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Sandringham previously announced that they'll be hosting drive-in movies this month. Film selections include recent box office hits like A Star Is Born, Rocketman and 1917, as well as family-friendly selections such as Toy Story and Moana. One film even has a Queen connection — Bohemian Rhapsody, following the tale of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen!

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