What the Royals do on Christmas Day – including chats with Queen and fancy meals

What the Royals do on Christmas Day – including chats with Queen and fancy meals

December 21, 2018

Every family has their own traditions on Christmas Day.

While some people don their fanciest frocks and do the rounds to see loved ones, for others the perfect day involves tuning into the Christmas TV specials in Father Christmas PJs.

Just like the rest of us, the Royal Family come together to spend the special day together – and a lot of their traditions aren’t too much different to the ones us normal folk enjoy.

They tuck into a big turkey dinner (with a few fancy extras), eat Christmas cake and exchange presents.

But there also a few extra special traditions thrown in there – well, they are royal after all.

Here’s a full step-by-step guide to what the Royal Family get up to on Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve

Afternoon tea

Once the family have all arrived and unpacked, they gather for afternoon tea.

It’s believed to be a formal occasion, with the men in black tie and the women wearing gowns and jewels.

Opening presents

To incorporate their German heritage into the festivities, the family open their presents on Christmas Eve as is traditional in the country.

Shortly after they arrive they all lay their gifts out on different tables, so each guest has their own little pile.

Prince Philip oversees organising the gifts and tells everyone when they can open them.

The family exchange cheap joke presents, and in the past Kate bought Harry a ‘Grow your Own Girlfriend’ Kit and the Prince got his granny a "Life’s a B****’ shower cap.

Christmas Day


The royals kick off the big day with breakfast, but many of the couples split up for the first festive meal.

According to former royal chef Darren McGrady the women tend to eat in their rooms while the men sit together downstairs.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: "On Christmas Day, the ladies generally opt for a light breakfast of sliced fruit, half a grapefruit, toast and coffee delivered to their rooms."

The men on the other hand have a much heartier breakfast, usually including eggs, bacon, mushrooms, kippers and grilled kidneys.


The public get to see the Royals when they head out to a traditional Christmas Day church service at St Mary Magdalene.

Hundreds of well-wishers usually gather to see them as they walk into the building, and they often stop to have a chat on the way out.

Trips to Church is the only time the Queen carries cash, and she normally pops either a fiver or a tenner in the collection pot – but it could be more at Christmas.

Christmas lunch

The festive feast is the main event in most homes on Christmas Day, and it’s no different for the Royals who site down to eat at 1pm.

Former royal chef Darren McGrady revealed exactly what the Queen eats during an interview with Good Housekeeping .

He said: "After church, that’s when they have a big lunch that includes a 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."

Sounds delicious!

The Queen’s Speech

Yep, that’s right – just like the rest of us the Royal Family sit down and watch granny’s speech on the BBC at 3pm.

It’s prerecorded which means the Queen can watch it back surrounded by her loved ones.

Afternoon tea

After the speech they all go off for a bit of free time, before gathering again for afternoon tea and a slice of Christmas fruit cake.

Chats with the Queen

According to former royal butler Paul Burrell, all the royals like to have a one-to-one chat with the Queen during the day, but there’s one popular time to do it.

Before Princess Diana’s first royal Christmas, he advised her to try and get some quality time with the monarch when she was sitting at her card table.

Speaking to the Mail Online, he said: "All these people are members of the royal family, they are all larger than life, have character to go with it. Everyone is jostling for position and attention, and they’re bouncing off the walls after four days. It’s like a pinball machine.

"They all want to please the Queen and want airtime with her, it’s the one time that they can sit down with the head of the family and make an impression.

"It’s what I said to Diana when she first came into the family, try to get airtime with the Queen, speak into her ear.

"The best time to do it is when she’s seated at her card table, before and after dinner, she will sit and play Bridge or Canasta and she’ll always ask people to join her, that’s your chance to get quality time and tell the monarch what you’re thinking and feeling."


Before long it’s time for ANOTHER meal, and the royal chefs put on an evening buffet for dinner.

Former chef Darren McGrady said there’s "a buffet dinner with 15-20 different items. It’s always a buffet with the chefs at the table carving."

Before they all tuck in the senior chef goes into the dining room and carves the meat. Once he’s done, the Queen gives him a glass of whiskey and they toast. It’s the only time the chef is invited into the dining room.

He also revealed that the Queen has a real penchant for chocolate, particularly the dark and minty variety.

Apparently "she always has a chocolate treat on Christmas".

Boxing Day

The next day the family will head on on their annual Boxing Day pheasant hunt.

Prince Harry, who has been taking part in the tradition for about 20 years, will be skipping it this year to keep his new wife Meghan happy.

One Royal source told the Sunday Mirror: "William sees this as another concerning example of his brother being pulled away from his family by his new wife.

"Harry’s always loved hunting and it has provided them with a great chance to bond as brothers.

"But now it looks like Harry’s shooting days are over. It’s the latest point of contention between the Princes."

Some of the family leave the estate to visit other relatives on Boxing Day.

The Cambridges, for example, will head off to celebrate with Kate’s family, where they enjoy another busy day of festive fun.

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