The British royals are no different from the rest of the world when it comes to Christmas celebrations. The entire family gathers at Sandringham House in Norkfolk on Christmas Eve. They exchange gifts, play a friendly game of backyard soccer and then feast on turkey.
Queen Elizabeth II does not like expensive gifts and so the royals exchange the cheapest and tackiest of gifts on Christmas Eve. Like the Secret Santa, the queen likes to see who can come up with the cheapest present. Kate Middleton reportedly gave brother-in-law Prince Harry a plastic Grow Your Own Girlfriend kit one Christmas.
Another year Kate went creative and gave homemade strawberry and plum preserves to a few lucky people. Meanwhile, Harry gave his grandmother a bath cap with ‘Ain’t life a bitch!’ written on it. Princess Anne once gave her brother Prince Charles a white leather toilet seat.
Hosted by Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, the Christmas celebration at Sandringham starts on the eve with early afternoon tea and snacks served for guests in the White Drawing Room at 4 p.m. Prince William and Harry also participate in a backyard soccer match played for charity at the estate. The teams consist of game pits workers at the estate in Norfolk against villagers from nearby Castle Rising.
The dinner on Christmas Eve is served at 8 :30 p.m., when all the royal family gathers together for the delicious meal. According to Darren McGrady, the meal involves “something festive, some game, like pheasant or venison, and roasted wintery vegetables, like parsnips.” The chef worked for the Windsors for 15 years.
On Christmas Day morning, the royal family attends church service at St Mary Magdalene church. Thousands of royal fans gather to catch a glimpse of the British royals on their annual church visit. After church, the royal family heads back to Sandringham House for a lunch of Norfolk turkey and other festivities.
On the table the head chef, accompanied by some of his team, carve the first of two 25-lb. turkeys, with the queen first in line. “At the end of the carving, it's the one time of the year that she would give the head chef a drink, and he will toast [the family] with ‘Happy Christmas,’” McGrady told People. After the festive lunch, the royals watch the annual television address by the queen, which airs at 3 p.m. U.K. time. The family then indulges in Elizabeth’s favorite jigsaw puzzles or just go out and exercise on the 20,000-acre estate.