royal-family

How do the royal family celebrate Christmas? Their traditions revealed

Mulenga Hornsby and Ainhoa Barcelona

Christmas is the time to spend with your family and loved ones, and the royals are no exception when it comes to the festive season. They take a break from their official duties, instead choosing to mark the holiday in private. But how exactly do they celebrate?

The festivities are held at the Queen's grand country home, Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk. The 90-year-old monarch and her husband Prince Philip usually retreat to the country the week before Christmas, around 21 December, to prepare for the big family reunion.

Other guests arrive at the 20,000-acre estate from 23 December in order of precedence, with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall usually the last to arrive. While the family are welcomed to Sandringham House, Prince William and Kate usually stay in their own residence, Anmer Hall, just down the road from the 'big house'.

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The Queen invites her family to Sandringham House in Norfolk

On Christmas Eve when all the clan are together, the Queen's grandchildren and great-grandchildren put the finishing touches to the Christmas tree. Presents will be opened that day at tea time with gifts laid out in the Red Drawing Room on a trestle table. However, the monarch's gifts are unlikely to be pricey. Touchingly for people who have everything, the royals tend to buy each other jokey things. A white leather loo suit was the star item one year.

There will be plenty of presents for tiny hands to unwrap. Prince George, three, and 19-month-old Princess Charlotte will no doubt have a ball with their little cousins Mia Tindall, who turns three in January, and Savannah and Isla Phillips, aged five and four.

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The royals gather round to listen to the Queen's broadcast speech on Christmas Day

At 8pm on Christmas Eve a candle-lit dinner is served with the ladies in gowns and jewels and the men in black tie. It is a relatively formal affair, but also the chance for the families to catch up.

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This year there will be plenty of exciting news to talk about – the Queen's granddaughter Zara and her husband Mike Tindall recently announced they are expecting their second baby, while Prince Harry will want to reminisce on his recent colourful tour of the Caribbean, and perhaps share some sweet anecdotes about his new girlfriend Meghan Markle.

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The family attend the traditional Christmas Day service

On the morning of 25 December a full English breakfast is served, before everyone attends the traditional church service at St Mary's Magdalene.

Afterwards it's back home for a turkey roast with all the trimmings, before everyone gathers at 3pm to watch the Queen's Speech. And the staff can finally put their feet up, as the family insist on serving themselves their own buffet supper.

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They greet well-wishers after the church service

Prince William and Kate, and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will also spend part of the Christmas break with Kate's side of the family, the Middletons, in Berkshire. The royal children will be reunited with their grandparents Carole and Michael Middleton, uncle James and auntie Pippa, who will no doubt lavish the youngsters with gifts, love and attention.

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