Like every other family, the British royals have Christmas traditions that add a bit of excitement and charm to the holiday season.
The British royal family has protocols for everything, and Christmas is no exception. From the types of Christmas songs allowed to permissible methods of decorating the Christmas tree, these protocols have been handed down through generations and practiced religiously.
Hence, what others may consider unconventional may translate to routine norms among the royals. Join this walk through some unique Christmas traditions practiced in the royal family that would blow your mind.
1. Sending Out Christmas Cards
Every year at Christmas, the royal family, courtesy of her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, sends out Christmas cards to well-wishers around the world. The royals’ official website estimates that about 750 cards, personally signed by the Queen, are sent out each Christmas.
2. The Queen Rides A Train To Sandringham Estate
When it comes to conserving the environment and proving they’re “just like us”, the royals go all out. Yet, it comes as a surprise that the Queen travels by train to Norfolk’s King’s Lynn Station for her Christmas visit to Sandringham Estate, where the royals customarily spend the holidays.
Of course, 2020 was an exception, as the Queen remained at Windsor Castle, while the other royals stayed tucked in their respective abodes due to the coronavirus pandemic. There goes another interesting royal family tradition!
3. The Royal Black-Tie Dinner
As per their long-standing tradition, members of the royal family customarily grace a black-tie dinner on Christmas Eve. During the festivity, everyone privileged to attend would have a taste of the Monarch’s favorite cocktail, the Zaza.
4. Something Large, Something Silver, and Something Tripled
The Christmas tree affair is not business as usual in the royal family. According to former royal Chef Darren Mc Grady, the royal family Christmas usually sees Sandringham decorated with multiple Christmas trees of different shades.
The masterpiece however would be a large Christmas tree and an equally gigantic silver artificial tree positioned in the dining room. To add some warmth to the family rendezvous, the Queen lets the kids partake in the decorative process.
Buckingham palace also receives its fair share of attention, with three fir trees positioned in the Marble Hall. This tradition was popularized in the nineteenth century by Queen Victoria and is still upheld to date.
5. A German Affair
Another queer tradition practiced within the royal family at Christmas is opening presents on Christmas eve rather than waiting until Christmas Day. The Windsors consider this a nod at their German heritage.
6. The Christmas Service
Each year, the Queen and the rest of the royals attend the Christmas service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Norfolk. The royal family honor this annually, dressed beautifully in their colorful attire to usher in Christmas with beautiful songs of praise.
7. A Christmas Menu
Right after the Christmas morning Church service, the royals proceed to Sandringham for a pre-prepared luncheon. A traditional dish of roast turkey is served to everyone present in Sandringham, with several side dishes and veggies.
Also, the family often wakes up to a traditional English Breakfast, mostly consisting of sausages, bacon, and eggs on Christmas morning, having enjoyed a formal dinner of Norfolk shrimp, lamb, Tarte tartin, or souffle the night before.
There is always enough pudding to go around throughout the festivities.
8. Using The Scales
With so many delicacies painstakingly prepared, it would be a shame for one to go hungry at the end of Christmas dinner. Interestingly, there is a unique royal Christmas tradition to put that in check.
Royal expert Ingrid Seward once revealed the Queen ensured each of her guests hit the scales upon their arrival at Sandringham. After dinner, they weigh themselves again using the special antique scales to prove they were well-fed.
9. The Dogs Are Not Left Out
Queen Elizabeth II always ensures her corgis enjoy personalized dishes of the freshest local produce at Christmas along with the rest of the family.
McGrady, who served as the royal chef for ten years claimed the dogs had individual menus mostly comprising fresh rabbit, beef, or chicken with a side serving of rice and cabbage.
10. The Queen’s Christmas Broadcast
Originally introduced by King George V, The Queen’s Christmas Message, previously dubbed the King’s Christmas message, traditionally airs at 3 pm in 52 commonwealth nations.
The annual radio broadcast, which has existed for over 88 years, is usually pre-recorded weeks prior so it does not get in the way of the monarch’s other Christmas Day activities.
11. Peculiar Christmas Shopping
As impossible as it may sound, the British Monarch does most of her Christmas shopping in person. More so, she does it at conventional department stores.
Her favorite go-to spot is reportedly Harrods in London, which usually stays open after hours on a pre-scheduled day to ensure The Queen enjoys a peaceful shopping experience.
12. An Early Christmas
The royal family’s official website confirms the Queen customarily hands out Christmas gifts to every member of staff. An interesting detail about this royal tradition is that Her Majesty always demands their Christmas wish list as early as March.
While the staff is allowed to choose their preferred presents, it must fall within an estimated £28 for junior staff and £35 for seniors, depending on their station.
13. The Dinner Menu Is In French
The Christmas dinner is remarkably a grand occasion set around a large Boar and other side dishes. However, the feast is made even fancier by including a customized dinner menu in French.
Don’t worry about the kids not being able to place their orders, as they usually enjoy a less formal dinner tucked in the nursery. At least until they become old enough to conduct themselves at formal gatherings.
14. A Royal Football Match
Every Christmas Eve, Price Williams and Price Harry play a competitive pick-up football match alongside the members of staff at Sandringham Palace.
However, this Royal family tradition has not been observed since 2019 as Prince Harry spent his last two Christmases away from Sandringham.
15. The Day After Christmas
Boxing Day for the royals is just as exciting as Christmas Day. The royal family Christmas traditionally rings in the new day with a special feast before embarking on a Boxing Day Hunt, and the Boxing Day Shoot.
Which of these traditions are most likely to be incorporated in your holiday festivity this season?