The royal family’s Christmas gift exchange is quite unexpected — it’s anything but stuffy, as they exchange gag gifts each year. One year, in fact, Prince Harry had a pretty naughty gift for his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, but it was all in good fun, despite the rude message.
Inside the royal family’s surprising tradition
While most fans of the royal family would expect their Christmases to include a gift exchange of some extravagant presents, it’s actually quite the opposite.
It’s been reported that they gather on Christmas Eve for a gift exchange tradition that was introduced by Prince Albert. Tables in the Red Drawing Room at Sandringham indicate where each family member is to place their gift — and the expectation is for a joke gag gift exchange, so there’s an element of humor to the whole gathering.
Prince Harry’s gift for the queen was pretty shocking
Given the parameters of the gift exchange, there are plenty of laughs to be had, but Prince Harry’s gift to the queen containing an explicit phrase printed on it has to be the most shocking.
Royal biographer Brian Hoey claims that Prince Harry gave the queen a shower cap in 2013 that had the message “Ain’t Life a B**ch” printed on it. The queen reportedly thought it was pretty amusing, as Hoey noted in a report for Wales Online in 2014, “she did like it!”
Princess Diana didn’t know how the gift exchange worked
During Princess Diana’s first Christmas with the royal family, she wasn’t clued into the gag gift exchange and instead bought expensive cashmere sweaters and scarves as presents.
Royal writer Zoe Borrell and royal expert Angela Mollard discussed Princess Diana’s blunder during the Royals podcast, with Mollard sharing: “When Diana first went she didn’t know that there was this joke present tradition.”
She continued, explaining: “So she had got Princess Anne this gorgeous cashmere jumper. It was all very sensible and expensive. And she handed it over and she hadn’t been made aware that it was just novelty presents. Poor thing! They didn’t communicate very well.”
Borrell noted: “Charles should have told her that before they went!”
Mollard pinpointed the communication issue, sharing: “I don’t think they were talking much! They got married in August and I don’t think they were talking by December. So he didn’t give her that information and she was very annoyed about it.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle missed this year’s royal family gathering
Of course, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle opted to skip the royal family traditions at Sandringham with the queen and spent the holiday in Canada with baby Archie.
Royal expert Omid Scobie shared that part of the reason for Prince Harry and Markle’s Christmas plans was that the children are separated from the adults for parts of the day at Sandringham.
In response to a CBC reporter telling Scobie he “could not imagine taking the baby away from family at this time,” the expert noted: “You have to remember Sandringham is quite a formal affair. On Christmas day when the family gets together for Christmas lunch, children are separate from the parents.”
He continued: “They have their own celebration in the royal nursery so they wouldn’t have got to spend as much time with Archie as perhaps they would have liked.”