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The Royal Family Christmas Tradition: Every Dish the Royals Splurge on at Christmas

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The royals are big with traditions and even bigger with family-favorite holidays like Christmas. Little wonder assorted delicacies make up a great deal of their Christmas festivities.

The Queen puts so much effort into preparing for a grand Christmas celebration at Sandringham Estate. From the decoration to the meals, she conducts the affairs with the grace and poise only a royal could muster, ensuring every inclusion had special significance.

After a significant year like 2021, which saw the royals experience the death of the family Patriarch, Prince Phillip, and the backlash accompanying Megan Markle’s Oprah interview as well as happier moments like the addition of new little royals to the fold, this Christmas would be unlike any other.

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Certain royal family Christmas traditions like having the Duke of Edinburgh add the final star to their Christmas tree, and riding with the Queen on a train to Sandringham may become history.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

However, the holiday meals would most likely stay the same. While one may expect the royals to feast on wagyu ribeye, Kobe beef and other exotic dishes for Christmas, they surprisingly stick to the good old roast turkey and other common dishes.

Curious about what makes up the royal family’s Christmas spread? Let’s dig in!

A Royal Christmas

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Notably, Christmas is a grand affair for the royals, who get a headstart even weeks ahead with the Queen’s formal lunch at Buckingham Palace.

She then proceeds to Sandringham by train to spend the holidays with her large family who arrive at designated times.

Then there’s the formal black-tie dinner on Christmas Eve, which officially kickstarts their Christmas festivities.

After a night of feasting and gift exchanges, the royals wake up to an English Breakfast, and socks full of small goodies, before proceeding to St. Mary Magdalene’s Church in Norfolk, for the Christmas service at 11 a.m.

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The royals returning from the Christmas service | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

After the service, they return to Sandringham for a formal lunch which is the main meal of the day, followed by a walk around the estate, watching the Queen’s broadcast, an afternoon tea, and a festive dinner.

The family reportedly retire for the night at 10 p.m., bringing an end to their activity-filled day.

What Do The Royals Eat?

Having caught a glimpse of how Christmas is celebrated by the royals, it may seem hard to keep tabs on everything they eat during the festivities. Well not exactly.

According to royal chef Darren McGrady, the British royal family sticks to the same boring menu each year, depending on the event in question.

1. A Formal Christmas Eve Dinner

Queen Elizabeth II with guests at a banquet| Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

The royals usher in Christmas at Sandringham with a formal dinner on Christmas Eve. Customarily, the menu includes Norfolk shrimp, lamb, tarte tartin, and souffle which was reportedly Princess Diana’s favorite Christmas dessert.

2. A Traditional English Breakfast

A traditional English Breakfast | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

For their breakfast on Christmas day, McGrady revealed the royals were usually served in their respective chambers. The simple English breakfast comprises sausages, bacon, eggs, and a warm beverage.

3. The Turkey Fest

Roast turkey | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

In the royal household, the main meal of the day is the Christmas lunch, centered around three large roast turkeys.

McGrady revealed multiple turkeys are served at the occasion, both to the kids dining in the nursery, and the numerous staff on board.

Reportedly, the Queen has moved this turkey fest to the night before in recent years, to enable the staff to take the day off on Christmas Day.

This delicious protein feast is usually accompanied by several side dishes, ranging from delicious veggies to mouth-watering seafood.

4. The Sides

Side dishes | Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Each meal served to the royals is accompanied by sumptuous sides which vary from year to year according to McGrady.

Majorly, the spread includes Brussels sprouts with bacon, homemade sage with onion stuffing, chestnuts, parsnips, carrots, homemade gravy, mashed and roast potatoes.

5. The Royal Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

The Christmas lunch is usually accompanied by a traditional Christmas pudding for dessert, which is another signature delicacy in the prized menu.

McGrady revealed the brandy-doused pudding was usually made weeks prior and left to mature. As a final touch, a steward would light it up, before carrying it flaming into the royal dining room.

6. Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

Another staple enjoyed by the royals is the afternoon tea. While this is uncommon in most families, it surprisingly consists of a common spread.

Usually, a chocolate yule log, mince pies, a Christmas cake, scones, and varieties of sandwiches make up the tea session. McGrady revealed the cake was always the royal family’s signature fruit cake with royal icing and marzipan.

7. The Exotic Dinner

Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

For the last meal of the day, the royals gather around the dining room to feast on an exotic spread reportedly more elaborate than lunch.

 It comprises a wild BOAR as the main course, with a variety of sides including a whole foie grass en croute, port-infused Stilton cheese, crackers, and decorated York ham.

The head chef customarily heads to the royal dining hall to carve the meat, after which the Queen and the rest of the royals would give him a toast as an expression of gratitude for his service all year round.

8. Lots Of Drinking!

Kate Middleton | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

Drinks and cocktails are a major part of the royal family’s Christmas. Notably, Queen Elizabeth II treats her guests to a cocktail reception upon their arrival at Sandringham for the festivities.

During the formal black-tie dinner on Christmas eve, the royals also get to experience a taste of the Queen’s favorite cocktail, the Zaza among other drinks. The men in the family also bond over brandy and port throughout the night after the women and kids retire.

More cocktails, whisky, and alcoholic beverages follow the next day, accompanying each formal meal. With the Queen’s health calling for concern recently, some of these meal protocols may have to be tuned down.

Be rest assured no one would go hungry though, as each royal reportedly weighs themselves once they arrive at the estate for the Christmas festivities, and after the feast, honoring a long-standing tradition. Merry Christmas!

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