Really weird royal family holiday traditions
The royal family has some really weird holiday traditions. Festive holidays are the source of happy memories for so many of us, thanks to quality time spent with family, while honoring long-held traditions. Whether your favorite activity is decorating the tree, sitting by the fire with eggnog, lending a hand with the Christmas day feast, or just listening to the same Christmas album every year, cherishing the traditions you love brings joy to the holiday season.
Though every family seems to have their own unique holiday traditions, some are weirder than others. For example, Jessica Alba’s family celebrates with “cook offs and sing offs”, the Beckhams never fail to watch Queen Elizabeth’s speech, and Reese Witherspoon — who’s undergone a stunning transformation — and her family dress up her Oscar in snug winter accessories, according to Nine.
The royal family, however, just might take the cake (or perhaps Christmas pudding?) for the silliest seasonal traditions known to humankind. While some have sweet backstories, others are just downright bizarre, and not at all what you would expect from a family that’s usually so composed and sophisticated. Read on to learn all about the royal family’s really weird holiday traditions.
The royal family has the weird holiday tradition of opening their Christmas presents a day early
Remember seeing Christmas presents marked with your name under the Christmas tree as a child, and not being able to touch them in the lead up to Christmas morning? As it turns out, this kind of impatience is something the lucky members of the royal family will never have to experience. According to Express, the royal family gathers after their Christmas Eve meal, at 6pm on the dot, to open presents together as a tribute to their German heritage.
Here’s a surprising twist no-one saw coming: the royal family is apparently really big on gag Christmas gifts. According to Mirror, they have the really weird holiday tradition of buying each other totally inexpensive, completely hilarious presents. Some absolute crackers that have been gifted in the past include the hilarious “Ain’t life a b*tch” bathing cap Prince Harry cheekily presented to his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth. Some might find this royally inappropriate, but the family seems to love the tradition.
Queen Elizabeth hosts a Christmas Luncheon before leaving London, a weird royal holiday tradition
The royal family clearly loves holiday meals, because they have a bunch of festive lunches and dinners in the lead up to Christmas Day, a really weird holiday tradition. Among the most celebrated is Queen Elizabeth’s festive Christmas Luncheon. According to Now To Love, the Queen hosts a fabulous luncheon about a week before Christmas, and her entire extended family receives a coveted invitation. Sadly, cameras are not allowed inside the actual event, so we mere commoners will likely never find out what exactly goes on inside this extremely private family function. However, we imagine there’s plenty of fun, frivolity, and festive food involved.
While they may not be allowed inside, photographers turn up in full force to capture the arrival of the Queen’s guests each year. According to The Sun, guests including Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle; all of them were photographed arriving at the event in 2018. Also in attendance were Prince Charles, Lady Louise Windsor, Isla Phillips, Mia Tindall, Princess Beatrice, The Duke of York, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, and Autumn Phillips, among others.
Queen Elizabeth has the weird royal holiday tradition of traveling on a public train before Christmas
If anyone can afford to book private transport for a Christmas getaway, it’s Queen Elizabeth, who lives an insanely lavish life. However, the Queen travels via train to Sandringham Estate after wrapping up her Christmas Luncheon, according to PopSugar.
Though she’s able to use the royal train any time she likes, being the Queen of England and all, instead the royal has the weird holiday tradition of traveling on a public commuter train. She reportedly pays around £54.90 for the trip, and books an entire carriage for herself and her travel companions. The Queen likes leaving London a week before Christmas to supervise holiday prep at Sandringham Estate, and the other royals usually join her for the festivities later on, in accordance with the strict order of seniority and importance.
US Weekly reported that the Queen upheld this tradition in 2019, even though Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, was in hospital at the time. She was spotted at the train station wearing a fabulous pink outfit and a matching headscarf that year, and was accompanied by staff members who helped her with her bags.
The royal family has the weird holiday tradition of decorating multiple Christmas trees
Most families only have one decked-out Christmas tree at home during the holiday season, so it’s safe to assume the royal family does pretty much the same, right?
Wrong! The royal family has some really weird holiday traditions, and their Christmas tree situation is no different. According to the royal family’s website, a total of three fully adorned trees are displayed at Buckingham Palace every year.
Additionally, according to Good Housekeeping, Sandringham Estate’s festive decorations are a little more low-key than the ones you find at Buckingham Palace; the decor is reportedly “minimal.” However, the family still displays two different Christmas trees at the property. One is a large, well-adorned Christmas tree, and the other is a large artificial tree that is silver in color, which has been displayed during Christmas for over 30 years. It’s really quite sweet that the family has been using the same tree for all this time.
The Queen has the really weird holiday tradition of prepping royal Christmas cards in the summer
When do you start writing your Christmas cards? Late November? Early December? Maybe even the week before Christmas, if you’re running low on time?
Not surprisingly, Queen Elizabeth seems to outdo all of us when it comes to festive season preparation, as she reportedly starts writing out her Christmas cards during the summer! According to Mirror, the Queen and Prince Philip get a head start on their Christmas preparation during their summer stay at Balmoral. Their cards go out to family members, friends, acquaintances, and government officials, as well as various organizations.
Queen Elizabeth reportedly signs the cards in one of three ways, depending on her relationship with the recipient. She signs with “Lilibet” on cards for close family members, “Elizabeth” when addressing friends, and “Elizabeth R” when signing cards for co-workers. Card recipients who don’t know the Queen personally reportedly receive a rubber stamped signature. As for the amount of cards she sends, the royal family’s website states that the Queen sends out about 750 cards each year — which might explain why she starts prepping in the summer.
Royal staff members each get a present or pudding and a Christmas card, a weird holiday tradition
Imagine being personally handed a present by royalty! It appears this is the reality for many of the Queen’s employees; according to Mirror, select members of Queen Elizabeth’s staff receive Christmas gifts, as long as they’ve completed a full year of service. The royal reportedly asks her employees to choose a gift for themselves that fits into the royal budget, in order of seniority. She then hands the gifts out one at a time before she leaves London for the holidays. The employees reportedly offer their thanks when presented with the gift, knowing full well it’s exactly what they picked out.
According to the royal family website, this Christmas gift-giving tradition only applies to certain members of the Queen’s staff. However, she plans for approximately 1,500 Christmas puddings (and accompanying Christmas cards) to be distributed among her employees every year. This really weird holiday tradition was started by King George VI; his daughter, Queen Elizabeth, continues it with pride. As far as family traditions go, this one is just lovely — even though Queen Elizabeth has her staff do some pretty ridiculous jobs.
Princes William and Prince Harry share this really weird holiday tradition
Queen Elizabeth’s grandsons, Prince William and Prince Harry, developed their own weird holiday tradition over the years. According to PopSugar, the royal brothers play a game of soccer every year on Christmas Eve. It’s called the Sandringham Football Match, and the pair are joined by Sandringham Estate staff for the big match.
According to Mirror, the princes wear their favorite soccer jerseys for the annual game, and things are known to get quite heated on the pitch. They usually play on opposing sides, and the game is supposedly fiercely competitive. Prince William reportedly hurt his ankle during the game one year, and word on the street is that he once debated with the referee about giving his brother a yellow card. These siblings are just like regular folks when it comes to sports, apparently!
Prince Harry and Prince William do sometimes put their sibling rivalry aside to work together, though. Notably, the pair played on the same team during the 2015 game, on behalf of Black Horse Inn pub. They even wore matching jerseys for the event.
The royal family eats penny-sized sandwiches on Christmas Eve, a weird holiday tradition
Tiny cakes and desserts like petit fours are customarily served as high tea snacks these days, but what’s the smallest food item you’ve eaten? Have you ever consumed a coin-sized treat?
The royals sure have some weird holiday traditions, so it’s no surprise they take the cake for the strangest afternoon tea menu item. According to Mirror, the royal family enjoys special festive sandwiches called “jam pennies,” which are cut into penny-sized morsels for afternoon tea on Christmas Eve. PopSugar has reported that a former royal chef used to also make 50 pence-sized scones, which the family adored — and that Queen Elizabeth’s pet corgis loved eating too.
A few hours after tea, the royal family meets again, this time for a “black tie dinner and drinks,” featuring each family member’s drink of choice. Interestingly, the Queen’s favorite is a cocktail that includes Dubonnet and gin. Her grandsons, Prince William and Prince Harry, drink Sandringam cider, which is brewed locally using apples from trees their great-grandfather King George VI planted with his own two hands.
A Christmas Day game of charades is a weird holiday tradition for the royal family
Though we assume that the everyone in the royal family, especially Queen Elizabeth, is sophisticated, mature, reserved, and proper at all times, it turns out the royals take the silly part of holiday season quite seriously. According to Express, the family spend Christmas morning at church, after which they dine on a delicious turkey together. The meal wraps up quickly, so the whole family can watch the Queen’s annual Christmas speech at 3pm — the one day a year Queen Elizabeth doesn’t do her own makeup. After that, things get sillier than any of us would have ever expected, thanks to the royal family’s really weird holiday traditions.
Can you imagine the Queen and her family miming songs and movies, and acting out scenarios? Though it’s pretty inconceivable, it’s true, as charades is the royal family’s Christmas afternoon game of choice! Reportedly, Queen Elizabeth always does a great job of mimicking the US and UK government heads she’s worked with during her time as Queen. Who knew Queen Elizabeth had such a great sense of humor!
At Christmas dinner, the royal family has this really weird holiday tradition
Can you imagine being poured a drink by Queen Elizabeth? While most of us will never get to experience such a thing, the Queen actually does pour her senior chef a glass at the beginning of Christmas dinner.
Christmas dinner at Sandringham Estate starts quite early, according to Mirror. The royal family sits down at 1:15pm for salad and seafood; after that, their servers then bring out a full, French-inspired feast — think turkey, parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and a decadent dessert course that includes Christmas pudding and brandy butter. That’s a far cry from what Queen Elizabeth typically eats in a day!
Before the meal commences, however, the Queen gives the senior chef a glass of whiskey, and they share a toast. According to Express, this is the only occasion the chef would ever be in the company of the royal family as they eat. Given this fact, this toast might be one of the highest honors a royal chef can receive!
Before and after Christmas dinner, the royal family has this weird holiday tradition
This royal holiday tradition is so weird, it’s just downright bizarre. According to Marie Claire, however, it does happen: royal family members are asked to hop on the scale for a royal weigh-in before and after their annual Christmas feast. No, this isn’t an episode of The Biggest Loser — it’s just one of the strange rules guests must follow when dining with Queen Elizabeth.
You’re not alone if you think this tradition is a little archaic, and could potentially trigger body image and self-confidence issues. However, the tradition has existed since the early 1900s, back when King Edward VII was in power. The reading on the scale after an indulgent, multi-course, French-inspired meal complete with dessert will likely be a little high for most royals, compared to their pre-dinner reading.
But that’s the whole point of the tradition. Apparently, King Edward thought a pre- and post-dinner weight comparison would be the best way to find out if his guests were given enough to eat. You can call the method crafty, controversial, or crazy, but you gotta admit it probably works!
The royal family goes pheasant shooting on Boxing Day, a weird holiday tradition
The day after the royal family demolishes a well-prepared turkey, several royals participate in another bird-related activity: pheasant hunting. According to Express, the “annual Boxing Day shoot” sees senior members of the royal family take part in recreational shooting. And while they’ve come under fire for taking part in this controversial “country pursuit” in the past, the weird holiday tradition continues nonetheless.
Royal biographer Duncan Larcombe revealed to Express that, “there were famous pictures taken about 12 years ago of the Queen wringing a pheasant’s neck that had been shot,” which made headlines that season. Since then, photographers reportedly haven’t been able to spectate the event quite as closely.
Interestingly, though Prince Harry’s wife Meghan Markle is known for her animal activism, the Daily Mail reports that she hasn’t banned him from taking part in this tradition — yet. It will be interesting to see if this changes as their son Archie grows older, becoming one of the things Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s kids will never be able to do.
Queen Elizabeth has a weird holiday tradition when it comes to Christmas decorations
Many rules that we commoners accept as the norm don’t seem to apply to the royals, and taking Christmas decorations down in early January appears to be one of them. Though many believe keeping decorations up later than January 5 will bring about bad luck, Queen Elizabeth doesn’t seem concerned about this particular superstition. She instead prefers to follow her own rule about when Christmas decorations need to be packed away.
According to Hello magazine, the Queen and her family keep Christmas decorations up at Sandringham Estate until February 6 each year — four whole weeks after most of us take ours down. However, the date holds significance for the Queen: it’s the day her father, King George VI, passed away in 1952.
The sad incident occurred at the very same property. To that end, Queen Elizabeth likes to extend her holiday stay at Sandringham Estate until the anniversary of her father’s death. She reportedly observes the day of mourning in private, and then return to London to commence her royal duties
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