How the Royal Family Does Christmas

As we continue to embrace the cheer and merriment that December has to offer for the holidays, it’s fun to learn about how others celebrate. Looking at how Britain’s royal family does things reveals that they aren’t too far off from us “commoners” in their ways.

Over the years, Queen Elizabeth II and her family have enjoyed festivities together, complete with games, family meals, and movie nights. They gather, eat, drink, take pictures, and have fun like most of us do.

This short video from Vogue shares some of those good times and includes flashbacks that begin in 1925. Although Prince William and Prince Harry are all grown up and have started families of their own, many of the old royal Christmas traditions are still around.

What do they do? Here’s a roundup of how the Queen, the princes, Duchess Kate, and Meghan Markle will be spending the holidays:

  1. Sandringham Estate

    The family all travel to Sandringham House, a private estate in Norfolk, England. The Queen and Prince Philip arrive days ahead of Christmas to handle the final preparations, and everyone else arrives by Christmas Eve.

  2. Game Day

    Each year, Prince Harry and Prince William play a charity game of football with the locals in Norfolk. Teams include staff and members of the community.

  3. Gift Swap

    On Christmas Eve, they exchange and open gifts following afternoon tea. Presents usually include a bevy of gags. The Queen is known to love a good gag gift and her grandsons indulge her with funny novelty items.

  4. Tree Trimming

    Younger members of the family finish decorating the two Christmas trees at the house. We’re sure Prince George and Princess Charlotte love this!

  5. Formal Dinner

    On Christmas Eve, usually around 8:30 p.m., the family gathers in formal attire for a holiday meal that includes cocktails and dessert.

  6. Fun & Games

    Late night games like charades and movie screenings will keep the family up until midnight.

  7. Church on Christmas Day

    The entire family walks to St. Mary Magdalene Church to attend a short morning service. The Queen however, is driven. They then return home briefly to prepare for a second church service that’s also attended by members of the public. Rumor has it that those in attendance have to receive clearance months in advance.

  8. Queen’s Christmas Speech

    Following lunch, everyone gathers in the afternoon to listen to the Queen’s televised address which airs on UK televisions at 3:00 p.m. She doesn’t have to leave however as the speech is pre-recorded a few days in advance.

  9. Family Dinner

    A large spread that includes roast turkey, ham, and more is served. However, it is also the night that the Queen serves her a chef a glass of whiskey and makes a special toast to him.

  10. Ride Home

    You may not have known this, but at the end of her holiday, Queen Elizabeth rides the train back from Norfolk to London. Her presence sometimes surprises commuters!

Check out this video to see the days of royal Christmases past and present, and to see the family’s rendering at Madame Tussauds London. Those ugly Christmas sweaters you see are part of the display at the famous wax museum. Looks real, doesn’t it?

This year, the royals have a lot to celebrate with a new arrival on the way as well as Prince Harry’s engagement. As the family continues to grow, we’re sure the younger generation will be creating some new traditions of their own.

Are you surprised by any of the royal family’s Christmas traditions? Do you have any in common?