The Royal Family’s Norfolk Christmas traditions

Royals at Sandringham church service on Christmas Day.
Picture: Antony Kelly

Royals at Sandringham church service on Christmas Day. Picture: Antony Kelly - Credit: Archant

As well as having some all of their own, the Royal Family also started one or two of the Christmas traditions we now take for granted.

King George V delivers his first Christmas speech from Sandringham. Picture: EDP library

King George V delivers his first Christmas speech from Sandringham. Picture: EDP library - Credit: Archant

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert inspired the festive centrepiece of every home when a London magazine published an engraving showing the decorated Christmas tree the Prince had brought to Windsor in 1848.

Each year, the Queen personally chooses a tree from her own sawmill for the ballroom at Sandringham, before she entertains her family there.

Albert was also one of the first to send Christmas cards in the 1840s. The advent of the penny post in 1843 meant millions could afford to follow suit.

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust was one of the first organisations to produce a charity card, by special permission of its patron King V, in 1932.


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The Royal Family usually arrive at Sandringham in reverse order of seniority on Christmas Eve.

While the rest of us wait until December 25 to see what Santa's brought us, the Royals open their presents the day before in a nod to their German roots.

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Family members compete to see who can buy each other the cheapest, tackiest gift instead of splashing out.

On Christmas Day, family members attend morning service at Sandringham's tiny church. Thousands of well-wishers gather to greet them.

Afterwards, they return to Sandringham House for a Christmas lunch of Norfolk turkey and vegetables grown on their estate.

Members then sit down to watch the Queen's speech – a tradition which began when George V broadcast a Christmas message to the empire live from Sandringham in 1932.

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