Royal Christmas For Everyone: 15 Christmas Traditions To Adopt From the Royal Family

Like many others, the British royal family has a set of Christmas traditions that are about to start this holiday, from an annual trip to black-tie dinners. Find out what the royals eat, do after Christmas and how Meghan and Harry are breaking Christmas tradition... Join us for all the best facts about our favorite UK royals and what they are up to this merry season. Here are some of the activities that fans may want to do as well.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Louis of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Queen Elizabeth II watch a flypast from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. | Source: Getty Images

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Louis of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Queen Elizabeth II watch a flypast from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. | Source: Getty Images

18. PLAYING CHARADES

Part of the Christmas tradition of most families is staying up until midnight on Christmas Eve, which the Queen and her family follow as well. While doing so, the family plays a game of charades together, and reportedly, a match up happens after Christmas lunch.

17. TURKEY FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER

Having meals together is one of the most famous Christmas traditions as this is where you get to talk and bond over good food, which is equally as important. A buffet is always a must for the royal family on Christmas, and among their food should be turkey. The others are the likes of lobster and shrimp salads. Former royal chef Darren McGrady said:

“It’s always a buffet with the chefs at the table carving. Right before the Christmas buffet, the senior chef goes on duty into the dining room and carves the rib roast or turkey or ham.”

Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photo after she recorded her annual Christmas Day message, in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. | Source: Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photo after she recorded her annual Christmas Day message, in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. | Source: Getty Images

16. BLACK-TIE EVENT FOR CHRISTMAS EVE

A formal event is hosted during Christmas Eve where everyone chats over their favorite drink, with the Queen usually having a gin cocktail called Zara. Instead of spending the holidays at Buckingham Palace, the royals opt to share the special occasion in their Sandringham House in Norfolk. The Telegraph describes it as: 

“A relatively formal affair, with the men wearing black tie suits and the woman wearing gowns, expensive jewelry, and tiaras.”

15. EXCHANGE GIFTS AFTER TEA ON CHRISTMAS EVE

The royals usually exchange and open their gifts after afternoon tea and before Christmas Eve, in line with their German heritage. Presents are lined up on trestle tables for each member of the royal family, and the opening begins after Prince Philip gives the go signal.

14. PARTNERS OF THE ROYALS ARE ONLY INVITED AFTER TYING THE KNOT

With the exception of Meghan Markle, partners of royal family members are not invited to the Christmas celebrations until after they are married. Kate Middleton was not allowed to join until she tied the knot with Prince William in 2011, just like Zara Phillips’ partner.

However, Markle was invited to Sandringham for Christmas last year, following her engagement to Prince Harry.  Many felt that this broke royal tradition but the royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams shared:

“Now they are engaged and she will shortly be a senior member of the royal family, it is pivotal that she feels an integral part as soon as possible.”

13. GIFTS FOR ALL BUCKINGHAM PALACE STAFF

As a part of giving back to the service of the Buckingham Palace staff, all workers can choose between a gift token or a book token for their Christmas gift from the Queen. Those who are qualified for the gift must have been in service for the family for a year, and the amount given increases with seniority. 

Although very traditional, the royals still send another type of gift to family members and close friends. The Queen sends personally signed Christmas cards every year! Even at their age the Queen and Prince Philip send over 850 letters.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall's 2016 Christmas card on a Christmas tree in Clarence House. | Source: Getty Images

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall's 2016 Christmas card on a Christmas tree in Clarence House. | Source: Getty Images

12. SHOPPING AT HARRODS FOR THE QUEEN

Now that the Queen is 92, she probably gets help for her Christmas shopping, but in the prior years, she would go purchase gifts at Harrods. The store apparently extended their hours for the Queen to shop at her leisure and pace for the other members of the royal family.

Queen Elizabeth II and Shylah Gordon, aged 8, attach a bauble to a Christmas tree during the opening of the Queen Elizabeth II. | Source: Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II and Shylah Gordon, aged 8, attach a bauble to a Christmas tree during the opening of the Queen Elizabeth II. | Source: Getty Images

11. EVERYONE TAKES PART IN DECORATING THE TREE

“The Royal Family has a large Christmas tree and a large silver artificial tree in the dining room, which is about 30 years old,” says former royal chef Darren McGrady. During their get together at Sandringham House on Christmas Eve, the young royals are given a chance to complete the decors on the tree.

McGrady shared the following inside information: "The Queen likes to keep the trinkets at a minimal and probably sneaks down to see if the kids didn’t mess up the decors."

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall helps Aidan Birnie, 9, to decorate the Christmas Tree. | Source: Getty Images

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall helps Aidan Birnie, 9, to decorate the Christmas Tree. | Source: Getty Images

10. FOOTBALL OR CHURCH?

As part of the Christmas tradition, the two brothers, William and Harry, go head to head in a football game together with the Sandringham staff. With the exception of 2015, the brothers usually wear socks of their favorite teams -- Aston Villa for William and Arsenal for Harry.

After a full feast dinner and staying up for Christmas Day, the royal family head over to St. Mary Magdalene Church for a 45-minute service. This tradition has remained over the years as many members of the family hold dearly to their religious relations and tasks.

rince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend the "Our Planet" global premiere. | Source: Getty Images

rince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend the "Our Planet" global premiere. | Source: Getty Images

9. PRE-RECORDED CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

Since 1957, the Queen gives an annual broadcast Christmas message to the Commonwealth, where she looks back at the previous year and into the future. The televised message airs throughout the country at 3 pm on Christmas Day but is not live.

The Queen actually pre-records the clip in the White Drawing Room a few days before. It is no wonder why she would do this. No one would want to be disturbed and taken away from their family on such a special Holiday. While the Queen values her people, she values her family time as well. 

8. EXTENDED FAMILY ATTEND A PRE-CHRISTMAS LUNCH

The Queen throws her annual holiday Christmas party. This invite is extended to typically as many as 50 members of the extended royal family. The list includes the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George and Princess Charlotte, Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla and Zara and Mike Tindall.

When engaged to be married, both Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton attended this party before their respective royal weddings. This was a great opportunity for them as it allowed them to mix with the family and get to know them before the big "I do."

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

7. AN ENTIRE TRAIN CARRIAGE TRANSPORTS THE QUEEN 

Queen Elizabeth travels to her Sandringham Estate ahead of Christmas. She takes this trip on a pre-scheduled public train to King's Lynn. The royal, however, rents out an entire carriage on the train for herself, Prince Philip and the staff they will be taking along. The Queen takes this trip to Sandringham about a week before Christmas.

6. FAMILY ARRIVE IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE

Despite the tradition that dictates when royals arrive, there is another almost unspoken but clear rule. This is, of course, the order in which royals arrive. There are claims that everyone who's invited to the super exclusive festivities is given a specific time of arrival slot.

The slot depends on their status and position in the family. The lesser important royals arrive first, followed by the more senior members. Prince Charles, Will, Kate, Harry and Meghan would be among the last to arrive. This indicates their station and important family position.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

5. ONE GRANDCHILD OPENS PRESENTS EARLY

The royals opt to open their gifts on Christmas Eve but one royal can't wait that long. Prince George has been rumored to sneakily open his gifts early. This was something that George's father, William and his late grandmother, Princess Diana, did as well.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

4. THE ROYALS EXCHANGE GAG GIFTS

The royal family may be expected to give big and fancy gifts but this couldn't be further from the truth. Instead, the members of the royal family give each other gag gifts. Kate's "Grow Your Own Girlfriend" kit was one such funny gift.

But this isn't simply a tradition amongst the younger generation of royals. According to The Sun: "Prince Charles’s favorite-ever gift is reportedly a white leather toilet seat from Princess Anne, which he found so comfy that it now travels with him on his overseas tours."

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

3. THE QUEEN IS THE CHRISTMAS JOKER

Many people may not know that UK Christmas crackers have little, corny jokes inside. Queen Elizabeth reportedly insists on reading the jokes herself. The Queen's history of making up her own jokes as a child makes this fact all the more genuine.

2. AFTER CHRISTMAS THE MEN GO SHOOTING

According to McGrady, the men are excited to get out of the house after Christmas day and all the activities. They opt to get up early to go shooting. The women in the royal family generally stay at home and only join the men later for lunch. Venison stew, with mashed potatoes, braised red cabbage and apple pie is usually served.  

1. MEGHAN AND HARRY'S UNTRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS PLANS

News which has shocked fans of the royal family is again linked to Meghan and Harry. The couple announced that they would not be spending Christmas at Queen Elizabeth II’s Sandringham estate for festive royal traditions this year.

The news was not taken easily by some fans. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent Christmas with the Queen in 2017 and 2018 but this year, they have opted for extended family alone time.

Image source: Getty Images

Image source: Getty Images

With it being their son Archie Harrison’s first Christmas, they want to visit Meghan's mother, possibly in the USA. A spokeswoman for the Sussex family said in a statement:

"Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, their Royal Highnesses will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland. This decision... has the support of the Queen."

Image source: Getty Images

Image source: Getty Images

Many of the royal Christmas traditions are fairly normal. While they do have extravagant parties with guest lists to make anyone green with envy, their activities and family drama seem relatively normal. What do you think about these traditions? Stayed tuned as we keep you up to date on the popular and esteemed royal family!

Sources: Express Good Housekeeping Marie Claire CheatSheet

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