6 Creepy Things Royals Have Done During The Holidays

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Royals: No matter how celebrity magazines can sometimes make it look, they are not just like us — especially during the holidays. In fact, some of the things various Royals have done during the holidays are downright creepy… and I’m not just talking about the 1,200 mince pies they typically task the royal kitchens with making throughout the season. I’m talking about the assassinations. The political games. The questionable gifting practices. You know. Fun stuff like that.

To be fair, an awful lot of holiday traditions are often tinged with a hint of the spook, whether they’re practiced by royalty or not. St. Nick bringing toys for good children in sacks? Well, there’s a flip side to that — bad kids get taken away in sacks, kidnapped by the Sack Man. For every heartwarming holiday tale shared at this time of year, there’s an equally horrifying ghost story. And, uh, Christmas trees? Well, there’s a story about pine trees in Greek mythology that’s… not great. Just sayin’.

In that sense, it’s not surprising that some creepy people have done some creepy things during this seemingly festive time of year; after all, holidays are still just days, after all — days like any other. And granted, many of these creeptastic things occurred long, long ago. I should also note that when I say “Royals,” I’m not just speaking about the British Royal Family. But still — if you’ve always felt a little blech about the holidays, these kinds of occurrences might be why.

1William The Conqueror Took The Crown

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In 1066, William of Normandy, AKA William the Conqueror, launched the Norman Conquest, invading and taking over England after winning the Battle of Hastings on Oct. 14. He was crowned King of England on Christmas Day that same year. Nothing says “happy holidays” like taking over someone else’s country through brute force. (Sounds familiar, no?)

2The Tudor Monarchs Used Gift Giving As A Political Game

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As Bustle’s J.R. Thorpe recently noted, in Tudor England, Christmas gifts were often used to show or curry favor — and to snub people. Not in the in crowd anymore? Henry VIII might tell you not to send him anymore gifts — even if you’re a former spouse. Did something to irritate Queen Elizabeth I? You might be able to smooth it over with the right gift, if you’re Sir Philip Sidney — or make it worse, if you’re the Duke of Norfolk. Gift giving can be a complex endeavor at the best of times, but wow, was it a loaded situation then.

3The Crown Prince Of Denmark (Probably) Had The King Of Sweden Killed

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In the early morning hours of Dec. 25, 1156, King Sverker I of Sweden, also known as Sverker the Elder, was murdered in his coach on the way to Christmas services. Have yourself a merry little assassination.

According to Åse Theorell, a guide with the Rökstenan Visitor Center in Sweden, the murder was “probably ordered by the crown prince of Denmark”; speaking with The Local in 2015, she added that the stable hand who actually did the deed “fled to the other side of the lake and started boasting that he’s killed the king — not the smartest thing to do.” The stable boy was caught and sentence to a gruesome death: He was lowered into a boiling vat of lead.

4The British Royals Have Given Some… Questionable Gag Gifts

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On the lighter side of things, we have current British Royal Family’s longstanding tradition of bestowing upon each other inexpensive gag gifts on Christmas Eve. It’s all in good fun; heck, anyone who’s ever participated in a White Elephant exchange knows that gag gifts are often some of the best kinds of gifts.

That said though, I’d be lying if I said the idea of receiving some of the gifts that have reportedly been exchanged at the Royal Family’s Christmas Eve celebration didn’t make me a little… uncomfortable. For example, I would not be thrilled to be given a “grow you own boyfriend/girlfriend/partner” kit from a family member, as Kate Middleton reportedly gave Prince Harry several year ago (before he met Meghan Markle).

Now, this is very much a “YMMV”/“know the recipient” situation; if the whole “grow a girlfriend” story, which has been passed around the tabloids quite a bit, did actually happen, maybe Harry thought it was hilarious. And, I mean, I could probably get away with giving a wide number of relatives a bathing cap that reads “ain't life a b*tch,” as Harry is said to have given to the Queen one year — they’d likely find it laugh-out-loud funny, as the Queen reportedly. Still, though — there are… boundaries. Boundaries from which I would rather stay safely away.

But maybe that’s just me.

5Parliament Literally Cancelled Christmas

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To be fair, this one isn’t technically something the Royals did; it happened the year there, uh, weren’t any Royals at the helm in Britain. In 1647 — between the end of the First English Civil War and the beginning of the Second English Civil War — England was ruled by a Puritan Parliament… and that year, they straight-up cancelled Christmas. The Puritans viewed the holiday as decadent, wasteful, and immoral; they also generally weren’t a fan of feast days, with the belief being that the only holy day that ever needed to be observed was Sunday. As such, once they were in power, they banned Christmas, issuing an official ordinance that halted all celebrations. It came back, of course — Oliver Cromwell’s death in 1658 put an end to the Puritan-run Interregnum period and ushered in the Restoration — but still. What a drag.

6The Queen Keeps The Christmas Decorations Up For An Uncomfortably Long Time

The British Royal Family typically celebrates Christmas at Sandringham, the Queen’s estate in Norfolk. Tons of decorations adorn property during the holiday season — but although it’s considered bad luck to keep your Christmas decorations up past either Twelfth Night (Jan. 5) or Epiphany (Dec. 6), according to Hello!, the Queen keeps hers up much longer: They don’t come down until early February.

However, she’s got a good reason to keep them up: Per Coventry Live, “It’s so she can mark the anniversary of the death of her father, King George VI, on Feb, 6. So the decorations stay up until the Queen and Prince Philip leave after marking the occasion.” George VI died in his sleep due to a coronary thrombosis — a blood clot — on Feb. 6, 1952.

Happy... Uh… holidays? Or… something.

Ugh. I’m going to go make some hot chocolate. Gotta keep those holiday spirits up in the face of all this weirdness somehow, right?