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How Will The Royal Family Spend Christmas This Year?

As the Queen cancels Christmas lunch, the royals might have to give some of their traditions a miss this year.

by Bustle UK
Updated: 
Originally Published: 
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Members of Queen Elizabeth's immediate family, like Prince William and Kate Middleton, for example, are expected to take part in many Christmas traditions as a family. One that the royals would have been looking forward to would have been the Queen’s Christmas party that was due to be held at Windsor Castle.

However, the outbreak of the Omnicron variant of the Covid-19 virus has dampened those plans, leading the Queen to make the decision to cancel the festive lunch, which was planned to take place at on Dec. 21.

According to the Sun, the decision was described as "a precautionary one" out of fears that the party would "put too many people's Christmas arrangements at risk if it went ahead". Almost 50 members of the Royal Family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, were due to attend the festive lunch, but the Queen said cancelling the bash was "the right thing to do".

This Christmas will be a very sombre one for the Windsor’s following Prince Philip’s passing earlier this year, as well as the Queen’s health scare in October that led to her spending a night in London’s King Edward VII’s Hospital.

In October, a Palace insider said the Queen was determined to spend Christmas with her family at the estate. They told the Mirror, “This year, more than ever, it is incredibly important for Her Majesty to be surrounded by her loved ones. The Queen is totally committed to hosting everyone as she hopes to make it back to full health in the coming weeks. After being forced to cancel a host of engagements, the family get-together will be the perfect tonic.”

Last year, it was reported that the Queen and Prince Philip enjoyed their Christmas quietly at Windsor, instead of the whole family descending en masse to the Sandringham estate for the festive period.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children chose to bubble up for Christmas with the Middleton family in Berkshire last year, as they had spent the past few years with the royals. The Duchess also has two siblings, Pippa Matthews and James Middleton, so whether they’re planning on spending Christmas with their parents is another potential roadblock.

Elsewhere, Prince Harry and Meghan are expected to celebrate Christmas in sunny Los Angeles, California, with Archie and Lilibet. The couple has not confirmed their plans publicly, but they reportedly do not include a trans-Atlantic flight.

While the family’s seasonal schedule will be subject to major changes this year, here are a few ways the royals typically spend Christmas:

They always spend the holidays at Sandringham House

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It's tradition for the royal family to spend both Christmas and New Year's at Sandringham House, the Queen's country estate in Norfolk. They started spending the holidays there back in 1988. The Queen and Prince Philip are usually joined by Prince Harry (and now Markle), Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Prince William, Kate Middleton (although they sometimes spend the holidays with Middleton's parents), Peter Philips and his wife Autumn, Zara Philips and her husband Mike Tindall, and their grandchildren.

They play a football game on Christmas Eve

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According to reports, a Christmas Eve football game has become another holiday tradition for the family. Supposedly, Princes William and Harry play the game each year with workers from the Sandringham Estate. They wear the socks of their favourite teams, and the other family members watch.

They have tea together on Christmas Eve

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On Christmas Eve, the family has tea together in the White Drawing Room at Sandringham. According to Popsugar, the former royal chef, Darren McGrady, has said that the family's favourite tea item is the "jam penny," which is a sandwich cut into circles the size of an old English penny.

They exchange gag gifts during tea instead of anything expensive

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The royal family also uses their tea time to exchange their gifts. All members of the royal household get a gift from the Queen. According to reports, the royals give each other joke gifts rather than anything expensive and luxurious. Popsugar says that Prince Philip once received a light-up pepper mill, and Harry once gave the Queen a shower cap that said, "Ain't Life a B*tch!"

The Queen gives gifts to her staff

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According to the royal family, Queen Elizabeth gives Christmas pudding to her staff every year. About 1500 Christmas puddings get paid for by the Queen, then are distributed to the staff throughout the palaces, the staff in the Court Post Office, and Palace police. Each pudding is given with a greeting card from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. It's a tradition she took on from her father, King George VI, and her grandfather, George V.

They attend two services on Christmas Day

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According to the royal family, the Queen and members of the royal family attend the morning service on Christmas Day at St. Mary Magdalene in Sandringham, a country church that was visited by the Queen's great-great grandmother Queen Victoria, dating back to the 16th century. This is a private service so the Queen can take communion. After a change of clothes, they attend a public service at 11 A.M.

They all enjoy Christmas lunch together

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After their church services, the family gets together for a big lunch - probably one of the best parts of the holiday! McGrady told Good Housekeeping that this includes "salad with shrimp or lobster, and a roasted turkey, and all of your traditional side dishes like parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts and Christmas pudding with brandy butter for dessert. They stick with the same meal year after year."

The Queen gives her Christmas speech

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After lunch, the entire family sits down to watch the Queen give her annual Christmas speech, which airs at 3 p.m. U.K. time. Afterwards, they play games or go outside to get some exercise.

They end Christmas Day by having a big dinner together

Finally, the royal family ends Christmas day the way many of us do: by having a big dinner together. McGrady told Good Housekeeping that after having fruitcake with tea, they have a "buffet dinner with 15-20 different items. It's always a buffet with the chefs at the table carving. They don't do appetizers on Christmas like many do here in the U.S. Instead, appetizers and canapes are reserved for New Year's Eve."

Contributions from Jessica Booth, Rebecca Fearn, Orla Pentelow, Sam Ramsden, and Sophie McEvoy.

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