How Will The Royal Family Spend Christmas This Year?

The royal traditions might have to make way for a rule of six...

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It's no secret that the British royal family does pretty much everything differently than the rest of us. They follow a set of guidelines for their everyday life that affect everything from what they wear, to how they can sit down, and even what they can and cannot eat when travelling. While these are said to be more of a suggestion than hard and fast rules, it's pretty clear that members of the royal family take them seriously regardless — just think about the way Meghan Markle's style changed when she married Prince Harry. These guidelines impact their holiday season, too. There are some requirements for how the royals spend Christmas, but honestly, the 'rules' sound more fun than restricting. So, how does the royal family spend Christmas?

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. But as this year is bound by coronavirus restrictions, Christmas at the Windsors is expected to be a whole lot different. As The Sun reports, the Queen has insisted the royal family will adhere to the UK government’s rule of six if the guidelines still apply, and it is claimed Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will join her majesty for Christmas dinner at Sandringham estate on the day.

Commenting on the royal’s reported Christmas plans earlier this year, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson stated: “Although way too early for Christmas plans to be decided upon, rest assured that all plans will be contingent on following the appropriate advice at the time."

Elsewhere, Prince Harry and Meghan are expected to celebrate Christmas in sunny Los Angeles with baby Archie. A decision which could be attributed to U.S. travel restrictions and continued social distancing measures.

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 soccer game on Christmas Eve
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According to reports, a Christmas Eve soccer game has become another holiday tradition for the family. Supposedly, Princes William and Harry place the game each year with workers from the Sandringham Estate. They wear socks of their favorite 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 favorite 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 funny gag 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

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

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 the Christmas holiday 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."

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