How do the Royal family celebrate Christmas?

Royal Family 23/11/2018

Christmas over in the UK is very different to the classic Kiwi Xmas we're used to, even more so if you're part of the royal family!

The Queen holds an annual gathering at her private country castle, Sandringham House in Norfolk, where rigid formalities and strict protocol are followed. Once this is out of the way though, Queen Elizabeth loves to spend time with her loved ones. She is even breaking tradition this year by inviting along Duchess Meghan Markle's mother Doria Ragland to spend Christmas with the royal family. 

Here are just some of the Christmas traditions of the Royal family over the years:

1. An insane schedule
The traditions kick off with a black-tie dinner at Sandringham House on Christmas Eve, with all the royal family members in attendance. Men and women both dress their best, bling and tiaras included.

Christmas morning begins with a full English breakfast before the family head to church for the morning service at St Mary Magdalene. This is followed by a specific 50-minute lunch, then gathering around the TV to watch the Queen's pre-recorded Christmas message at 3pm.

No sleep-ins on Boxing Day either - phesant shooting is on the schedule. Sounds exhausting.

2. Presents aren't opened on Christmas Day
The little ones of the royal family, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis will open their presents on Christmas Eve with their families. The early opening is thanks to the Royal's German heritage - German tradition is to open their Christmas presents on December 24th, and this seems to have stuck for the royals. 

3. The Queen's speech
Her Majesty addresses the Commonwealth and the world every year on Christmas day, delivering them a message of hope and peace. It also gives the public a chance to peek inside the very festive Buckingham Palace. 

The royal Christmas broadcast has been tradition since 1932 when George V took to the radio to deliver a Christmas message. The Queen delivered her first speech in 1957 and has been writing her own speech every year since.

4. It's not all ceremony and schedule
The royals also like to have fun on Christmas like any other family - they especially love popping open bespoke Christmas crackers, and everyone wears the colourful hats while playing games (even Her Majesty).

The Queen reportedly loves the lame cracker jokes more than anyone else: "When she was younger she used to make up her own to amuse the rest of the family. And Prince Phillip likes to joke that he's pulled a cracker – much to the Queen's amusement," a source revealed. "Prince Harry would always go around the table at Sandringham swapping the crackers around – making sure he placed the heaviest at his place setting. He still does it now."

5. The menu is very traditional
Darren McGrady, author of 'Eating Royalty', has cooked a whopping seven Christmas meals for the royal family. 

"It was the same meal every year. They're actually boring when it comes to festivities! They didn't do hams or anything, just traditional turkeys. We did three turkeys for the Queen and her family in the royal dining room, one for the children's nursery and then more for the 100 or so staff, so everyone had a Christmas lunch."

"Turkey, different stuffings – sage and onion, chestnut – and the traditional sides like roast potatoes, mash potatoes, parsnips and Brussels sprouts."

And according to Darren, dessert is always Christmas pudding: "The pudding was made in pudding basins, turned out, decorated in holly, doused in brandy and then the palace steward would carry it, flaming, into the royal dining room," 

After a walk around the grounds in the evening, the royals indulge in yet another elaborate meal - a buffet: 

"When I was there Harrods would always give them a whole foie gras en croute. They'd have a whole Stilton cheese. We'd take the top off, pitchfork the top and pour port into it. It made this gorgeous spread for the crackers. It was really opulent. There was also a big York ham that was decorated."

"Then after carving all of the meat, the Queen would then ask the steward to pour the Head Chef a drink and he'd get a whisky and they'd toast him and say thank you, and that was them saying thank you for the whole year."