‘This is the season for family gatherings, carnival markets, cookie exchanges – and wondering exactly how those very wealthy royals will spend the holidays.
As it turns out, the House of Windsor has many quirky and downright unusual Christmas traditions that will leave you scratching your head. From gag gifts to choking and garlic bans to proper tea-cup etiquette and pretty shocking pre- and post-dinner weights (yes, really!), we’ve discovered a number of “things” strangest “holiday commandments” that the royal family followed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
You will… attend the annual holiday luncheon
The week before Christmas, Queen Elizabeth will host her annual luncheon at Buckingham Palace for her entire extended family – an exclusive guest list that usually totals more than 50 people.
Though she’s made tempting offers in advance, woe to anyone who declines the generous offer of spending the afternoon balancing their tea while mingling with a host of faces seen once a year. Little is known about this top secret event (no photography allowed), leading royal watchers and British tabloids to speculate about what really goes on behind the gilded gates. there.
See also: All the breeds the royals love, aside from corgis.
You will… spend Christmas in Sandringham
If you think preparing a Christmas turkey for your holiday party is stressful, how do you think the royal chefs feel? Christmas Week at Sandringham House, on the grounds of what is now King Charles’ Norfolk’s residence, is a must-attend event – although occasionally a rare exception is allowed.
Once upon a time, close family would not be allowed to spend Christmas away from Sandringham. Just ask Diana, Princess of Wales, who has never spent the big day with her Spencer clan. However, in recent years, the queen has allowed some room to wiggle, letting Prince William and Duchess Kate visit the Middleton family in 2014.
See also: 10 weird rules that royal children must follow
You will… buy gag-worthy gifts
Ignore any preconceptions you may have about the kinds of gifts the Royal Family buys each other over the holidays. Turns out, it was all about a good joke. On Christmas Eve, the Windsor family laid out their gifts on the table and exchanged them over cups of hot tea.
Topic? Cheap, cheerful and full of fun.
That’s right – as a way to cut back and avoid flaunting their wealth, the Royals buy each other gag gifts instead of expensive items. A few years ago, Kate famously bought Harry a set of “Grow Your Own Girlfriend” then single while the prince is said to have bought his beloved grandmother a shower cap that reads ” Ain’t Life a B*tch” on top.
Oh, what a fly on the wall when the queen opened that present.
Related: The most beautiful royal wedding dresses and their prices.
You will… walk to church on Christmas morning
It’s an annual tradition for Norfolk locals to line the streets leading to St. Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate to catch a glimpse of the Royal Family as they walk to attend the Christmas morning service.
The Windsor clan – minus the small children – walked all the way, greeting royal followers along the way, with the exception of the queen, who would quickly reach the door of the church by car.
In particular, the 2017 service was an important event for royal fans as it was the first time Meghan yet to be a duchess had bowed to the queen in public. Naturally, it was dissected by news outlets for days afterward. A few things the former actor needs to remember: bowers should never graze the floor; you just need to put one foot behind the other, allowing a slight bend at the knee and a slight bow. (Markle nailed it, for the record.)
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You must… always dress modestly
This isn’t really surprising, but it still needs to be said: there’s no such thing as lounging around in the PJs – not even on Christmas morning. (Our sympathies go to the kids – George, Charlotte and Louis.) The whole family is expected to get dressed up and ready for all the festivities on Christmas Day, from home holidays. morning worship to formal dinner. Humility first, while remaining fashionable.
See also: From heels to hats: 10 fashion rules royals must follow.
You will… be weighed before and after dinner
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This is not a joke, friends. According to royal experts and King editor-in-chief, Ingrid Stewart, every member of the Royal Family is weighed before and after their Christmas dinner. (We’ll give you some time to understand that.) Apparently this is a tradition that dates back to the early 1900s during the reign of King Edward VII, who, as a way of determining whether the guests of whether or not they are full, ask them all to step on the scale.
Given the fact that the Windsors enjoy three hearty meals over the course of Christmas Day, the scale seems a bit excessive. Some traditions do not age.
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The Queen is very fluent in French and prefers to use it at all formal dinner occasions. That is to say, the Christmas dinner menu is also printed in French. It is not known whether Kate or Meghan were familiar with the language as they spent their first Christmas with the royal family.
See also: Meghan Markle and the struggle of Black women everywhere.
Don’t… eat garlic
We all have foods or condiments that we just can’t stand, be it taste or texture. However, Queen Elizabeth absolutely hates a common cooking ingredient: garlic. As former royal chef John Higgins told national post in 2016, “they are missing out on garlic because at Buckingham Palace you don’t cook with garlic. In case you get ‘royal belching’ I suppose. The real reason, according to the reports? The queen hates that smell.
Related: Harry and Meghan have been honest about their mental health every time.
You will… stop eating after His Majesty has finished eating
One of the great things about being a queen is that when it comes to meals, you’re the speed driver. During meals, when Queen Elizabeth took her last bite, she was expected to quietly put down her fork and others would have to follow her instructions, even if they had actually finished their food. or not. We imagine this must have been a struggle for the majority of her guests.
Related: The iconic royal hairstyle throughout the years.
You will… fold your napkin in half
When on the table, napkins should always be folded in half to avoid unsightly stains and food crumbs. Royal family members must gently wipe their mouths and hands inside the folds of their napkins. Doing otherwise runs the risk of soiling your clothes — gasp! – and rudimentary napkins with lots of unpalatable food stains. Out of sight out of mind.
You can’t… play Monopoly
During the holiday season, royals will enjoy fun word games. Queen Elizabeth loved it so much that no one else was allowed to leave the room until she was done playing. But there is one game in particular that is strictly forbidden — Monopoly.
Yes, it’s a board game where you collect real estate and “get out of jail free” cards. Reason? In the past, it became too competitive and short-tempered so the queen banished it. What we want to know is who the guilty party is.
You will… use utensils properly
Most of us ordinary people don’t take the time to think about how we cut down on food, but royals take their eating etiquette very seriously. Regardless of whether you are right- or left-handed, the knife should be held in the right hand and the fork in the left hand (with the tip facing down, of course). It doesn’t end there: once you’ve cut a piece of food, it should be leveled on the back of the fork, rather than poking through with the tin.
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You will… follow the leader
The entrance is a key element in the Windsor family hierarchy, and the pecking order of precedence is nailed to an exact science. Naturally, the procession usually begins with the queen and will continue in the order of succession to the throne. For example, before his death in April 2021, Prince Philip had never entered the room with his wife — he was always a few steps behind her in all public and formal events.
Now, King Charles will be the leader of the herd.
You should… drink tea properly
Yes, there’s a right way to hold a teacup and saucer – and, yes, that means you could have done it wrong. As etiquette expert Myka Meier said People, a royal must use the thumb and index finger to hold the top of the handle, and the middle finger to gently support the bottom of the cup. Keep your little fingers tucked in! Also, the ladies have one more rule to follow – one must sip from the same spot to avoid lipstick stains around the rim of the cup.
Related: Prince Harry is getting (more) tea ready with a new memoir.
You won’t… take down your Christmas decorations until February
Although most of Queen Elizabeth’s guests will begin leaving Sandringham House after Gifting Day, the queen is expected to continue with a festive feel until the second week of February. While this may seem odd to some, there was actually a really deep reason behind the queen’s desire to keep the tree and tinsel for another month and a half.
Her father, King George VI, died on 6 February 1952, and that is how she paid tribute to him over the holiday season before she returned to London for the year.