In The News

10 Royal Family Christmas Traditions That Will Surprise You

Some of them will really surprise you!

By The Weekly | November 27, 2017

As the countdown to Christmas begins, royal fans will be eagerly anticipating the British royal family’s every move. We’re taking you inside the royal festivities, from a bit of rough and tumble on Christmas Eve to cider and movie nights. Keep reading for some little-known royal traditions that might surprise you:


1.Christmas cards are signed in the summer
She’s one of the hardest-working royals in the world, so perhaps unsurprisingly, Queen Elizabeth actually starts signing her Christmas cards during her summer holidays. She would write on a stack of around 800 cards during her annual stay at Balmoral Castle.

Photo: Pixabay


2. The princes get down and dirty
In recent years, it has become a tradition for Princes William and Harry to play a Christmas Eve game of football alongside workers from the Sandringham Estate. The brothers usually wear the socks of their favourite teams (Aston Villa for Williams and Arsenal for Harry) before they start their kick-about.

Photo: Pixabay


3. Miniature teatime treats are served
On Christmas Eve, the family gathers for afternoon tea in the White Drawing Room at Sandringham, and former royal chef Darren McGrady has revealed that one of the family’s favourite tea items is the “jam penny” – sandwiches cut into circles the size of an old English penny. He also makes scones the size of the 50-pence piece.

Photo: Pixabay


4. Alcohol flows aplenty
When the royal family gathers for a black-tie dinner and drinks on Christmas Eve, the Queen favours a cocktail called the Zaza (made from Dubonnet and gin) and Prince Charles is a fan of cherry brandy, but William and Harry both enjoy a pint of apple cider, which is grown on the estate.

Photo: Pixabay


5. Gag gifts make an appearance
The royals open their gifts on Christmas Eve after their afternoon tea. The family are fans of gag gifts, but some less well-known examples include the light-up pepper mill that Prince Philip received one year, the leopard-print bath mat that Princess Diana gave Sarah Ferguson, and a shower cap that Harry gave the Queen with “Ain’t Life A B*tch!” printed on it.

Photo: Pixabay


6. Two church services in a few hours
The family rise early on Christmas Day and gather for breakfast before leaving the house for a 9am service a The Church of St Mary Magdalene. This first service is a private one for the royal family. The family then go through a quick change of clothes before attending a public service at 11am.

Photo: Pixabay


7. French menus are the norm
Whether it’s for a state banquet or a family occasion, the Queen’s menus are always written in French, and Christmas Day is no exception. The family sit down to lunch in the Red Drawing Room – which is actually painted green – for turkey, sausages wrapped in bacon, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, and root vegetables.

Photo: Pixabay


8. Movie night takes place in a ballroom
After the public church services and dress-coded sit-down meals have been taken care of, the royal family might just gather in the evening to watch a movie, just like other families around the world. Except theirs take place in the Sandringham ballroom that is often used to host state dinners with visiting world leaders!

Photo: Pixabay


9. Celebrations go on until February
Most guests leave on Boxing Day to see other family members but the Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, remain until the second week of February, and the Christmas decorations stay up until then. Queen Elizabeth stays on to honour her father, who passed away at Sandringham on February 6, 1952.

Photo: Pixabay


10. Some rules are meant to be broken
Twenty years ago, close family members would not have been permitted to spend Christmas away from Sandringham. However, times are changing, as it seems William and Kate are alternating Christmases with each side of the family. The Duke and Duchess will be with the Queen and the rest of the royals this year for Princess Charlotte’s first official Christmas.

Text by Bella Brennan/ Additional reporting by Natalya Molok.

Photo: Pixabay

Suggested Reads

    Do You Recognise These Homegrown Brands?

    How This Woman Is Both Mum And Dad To Her Son

    How This Doctor’s Job Allows Her To Be With Patients During One Of Their Most Difficult Times