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How does the Queen spend Christmas at Sandringham?

The Queen, who arrived in Norfolk on Thursday, is expecting a house-full this Christmas Picture: Denise Bradley

The Queen, who arrived in Norfolk on Thursday, is expecting a house-full this Christmas Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

As she oversees the finishing touches to her Christmas decorations, she will be expecting a real house-full.

Members of the Royal Family gather at Sandringham each Christmas Picture: Ian BurtMembers of the Royal Family gather at Sandringham each Christmas Picture: Ian Burt

Thirty members of the Royal Family will be joining the Queen at Sandringham for Christmas.

Most will travel to Norfolk on Christmas Eve - arriving at the monarch’s country retreat in time-honoured order of seniority.

MORE - who’s joining the Queen for Christmas at Sandringham.?

Royal Family members walking to church on Christmas Day  Picture: Paul John BayfieldRoyal Family members walking to church on Christmas Day Picture: Paul John Bayfield

Cake and sandwiches with the crusts cut off are served at 4pm with Earl Grey tea.

Then it is time for Heiligabend Bescherung. In a nod to their German ancestry, the Royals get to see what Santa has brought them on Christmas Eve.

Presents will have been laid out on white trestle tables covered in crisp white table cloths.

Sandringham House has been owned by the Royal Family since 1862. Picture: Ian BurtSandringham House has been owned by the Royal Family since 1862. Picture: Ian Burt

Despite their lofty lifestyle, reverse snobbery is the order of the day, with family members competing to see who can buy the cheapest, tackiest gift in a bizarre secret Santa.

The Duchess of Cambridge gave Prince Harry a packet of Grow Your Own Girlfriend seeds before he met Meghan Markle. They obviously worked.

The prince is said to have given the Queen a shower cap with the motto ‘ain’t life a b*tch’ one Christmas. Other gifts have included a leopard print bath mat and a leather loo seat.

Dinner will be servied in the evening. The menu for each day will have been chosen by the Queen on her arrival at Sandringham - with even her corgis having their own rotation of rabbit, beef and chicken administered by footmen.

Crowds of well-wishers are expected on Christmas Day at Sandringham. Picture: Ian BurtCrowds of well-wishers are expected on Christmas Day at Sandringham. Picture: Ian Burt

Christmas Day begins with a breakfast of fruit and toast in their rooms for the ladies. The Queen’s tray is served at 9am sharp.

Male members of the family fortify themselves with bacon, eggs and kippers in the dining room.

Shortly before 11am, family members set off for morning service at the tiny Church of St Mary Magdalen.

Most will walk the half mile or so past the neatly-manicured lawns and through the leafy park from the house.

The Royal Family attending church on Christmas Day, 2017   Picture: Paul John BayfieldThe Royal Family attending church on Christmas Day, 2017 Picture: Paul John Bayfield

The Queen is driven in her Limousine, which pulls up precisely as the foot party arrives.

Thousands of well-wishers line the park. Royal fans queue from the early hours to secure a good vantage point opposite the church.

A large gathering of press will also be present for what is one of the few occasions when the entire Royal Family is seen together in the same place.

Family members exchange greetings with the crowds and smile for countless mobile phone pictures. Last year, single mum Karen Anvil made thousands from a picture she took of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Megan Markle as they walked to church.

MORE - mum made thousands from Royal pic

After a 45-minute service, which is broadcast to the crowds via a PA system, the Royals depart. There will be more pleasantries with those lining the path on the walk back to the house, although the tradition of the Queen accepting gifts and flowers from children lined up outside the church has been stopped - allegedly because it made the monarch late for her lunch.

On arrival, it is time for pre-lunch drinks. The Queen will sip a gin and Dubonnet, while other family members will enjoy a glass of their favourite tipple.

Lunch consisting of a Norfolk turkey with all the trimmings is served at 1pm sharp. The Queen’s head chef carves the bird at table before she offers him a tot of whisky. At 2pm Christmas pudding arrives with a generous cheese course.

During the afternoon, the family gather to watch the Queen’s speech - a tradition which began in Norfolk when the Queen’s grand-father King George V took to the airwaves in 1932.

MORE - How Queen’s speech tradition began in Norfolk

At 4pm there is festive tea with Christmas cake, mince pies and sandwiches. A buffet supper is served at 8pm.

Afterwards the 100 or so staff - most of whom will have travelled up from London for Christmas - can officially knock off and enjoy their own celebration.

Boxing Day sees male members set off on a pheasant shoot led by the Duke of Edinburgh. Birds which inhabit the pinewoods and coverts on the estate are all wild bred.

The women will meet them for lunch at an estate cottage, where hot stew will be waiting.

After dinner some will be thinking of departing the following day. Family members drift away between Boxing Day and New Years Eve, leaving the Queen and Prince Philip in residence.

The Queen stays in Norfolk until February 6, the date she acceded to the throne after her father’s death at Sandringham in 1952.

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