Queen Elizabeth has cancelled all major events at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 94-year-old monarch has been forced to axe receptions and events for the rest of the year ''as a sensible precaution'' given the ongoing health crisis.

The Palace said on its website: ''In line with current Government guidelines, and as a sensible precaution in the current circumstances, there will be no large-scale events held at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle for the rest of the year.

''A variety of possibilities were examined to see if it was possible for investitures to safely take place in line with the guidelines.

''Sadly, due to the large numbers of guests and recipients attending, it was not possible to find a way of safely delivering these events in the current circumstances. Recipients will be contacted directly.''

Despite the news, the Queen - who was quarantining on her Sandringham estate before relocating to Scotland for her annual break at Balmoral - looks to return to Windsor Castle this month and to use Buckingham Palace for ''an autumn programme'' of smaller events.

The statement continued: ''The Queen's intention remains to return to Windsor Castle in October and to resume the use of Buckingham Palace during an autumn programme of audiences and engagements, in line with all relevant guidance and advice.''

The announcement comes after reports Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan - who are currently residing in Santa Barbara, California with their 16-month-old son Archie, after stepping down as senior royals earlier this year - are considering visiting the UK before Christmas.

A source said: ''There's a lot of tradition surrounding the holidays with his family, and they both have really loved that in the past. With the uncertainty of COVID, they have been taking it one day at a time and are hopeful that they can all go back together and spend it as a family.''

And the main drive for Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan to return is a chance for Archie to see his great-grandparents - Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

The insider added: ''Time will tell if that will need to happen and if it could potentially impact what they do and when, but they are all eager to get back to spend time with Harry's family and for Archie to see his great-grandmother and great-grandfather in particular.''