How Will Queen Elizabeth II Celebrate Christmas This Year?

Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her 92nd Christmas this year – yes, that’s the big nine-two. Over the years she has set up a routine for herself, based on generational customs passed down to her and things she, herself, has turned into traditions.

So how will Queen Elizabeth II celebrate Christmas this year? It all starts out a lot more common than you would think…

Christmas season starts with decorating the tree

Queen Elizabeth at Christmas

Queen Elizabeth II at Christmas | John Stillwell/AFP/Getty Images

Like most other families, the royal family will begin their season by decorating the tree at Queen Elizabeth II’s home in Sandringham. The queen and her entourage will arrive on either the 19th or 20th of December to ensure things are set up perfectly. The rest of the royal family arrives between breakfast and lunch on Christmas Eve.

Presents aren’t for Christmas Day

While most of us will open our presents on Christmas morning, the royal family exchanges their gifts at tea time on the evening before. The queen will personally give each member of the royal family a gift, followed by a special pudding for all staff members. This will happen at both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

To show she’s grateful and appreciative of her family, Queen Elizabeth hands each gift out personally. This follows a tradition set by her father, King George. The tradition is, like the King’s ancestry, of German descent.

For the public: the queen’s Christmas message

Every year since 1952, the queen broadcasts a special Christmas message to all of Britain, as well as the commonwealth kingdoms (which include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Northern Ireland).

Sending Christmas cards

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband send out around 750 Christmas cards each year, a few weeks prior to the occasion itself. The recipients include members of the royal family, friends, prime ministers, and members of the royal household. The card features a family photo which (we are sure) includes her beloved corgis.

Christmas morning is for church

Queen Elizabeth at church

Queen Elizabeth and the royal family at church | Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Every morning on the day of Christmas, the Queen and her family attend a church serve in Sandringham at St. Mary Magdalene. This has been a royal family tradition since the time of Queen Victoria (Elizabeth’s great-great-great grandmother).

A Christmas feast to follow religious services

When the queen and her family return from church they eat a large Christmas feast, prepared for them by the household staff. The feast contains the same food every year with a few small alterations being accepted.

Each year, the queen and her family dines on a salad containing either shrimp or lobster, which is followed by a roasted turkey. Traditional sides include parsnips, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. A dessert of Christmas pudding topped with brandy butter follows.

Buffet for supper and a small token of appreciation

A buffet consisting of fifteen to twenty items is served in the evening, hours after the big meal. The feast is traditionally served around lunch time. Just before the buffet, the queen offers a small token of appreciation.

The head chef on duty will come into the dining room to carve the meat offered at the buffet. When he is finished, the queen herself will poor a glass of whiskey for him and the two will toast to each other’s good health. This is the only time during the year when the chef will enter the dining room, and it is considered a great honor.

Queen Elizabeth II is a charitable monarch

In addition to the presents given to her family and the pudding she gives to her staff, Queen Elizabeth II has several other charitable items to cross off her task list for the holiday season. This includes giving a handful (or more) of Christmas trees away, and donating to several charity organizations.