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Andy Crane

Christmas at the Royal Household


ALL families have their own traditions and customs when it comes to celebrating Christmas.

And the royals are no different as they like to celebrate the festive season in their own special way.

From having a family football match, to all attending church before sitting down to a lavish dinner - a royal Christmas is a busy holiday.

Here we've rounded up some of the best and strange festive traditions that take place every year while they  celebrating at Sandringham.

Christmas starts early

The Queen sends over 800 Christmas cards every year to people ranging from heads of state to her personal friends and distant members of her family.

And as she personally signs all of them, it can be a lengthy process to get through.

This means that Her Majesty has to start early and according to Popsugar spends part of her summer holiday writing them out.

That way she can enjoy Christmas without a mad rush to make sure they make the last post.

Bringing their own food

Every year, the royals gather at the Queen's Sandringham estate to celebrate the festive season - but they rarely turn up empty handed.

According to royal chef Darren McGrady, they often bring their own food gifts, with some even bringing their own china.

Darren told People magazine: "The Queen Mum’s china was a pattern she had at home and she wanted it for her breakfast. They like the continuity."

Family footy

In a fairly new tradition which started around 10 years ago, Princes William and Harry pull on their football boots for a competitive Christmas Eve kick-about with their mates and staff who work on the estate.

Crowds from the village show up to watch the match with the brothers often playing on opposing sides.

But in what is meant to be a friendly game, it can often get heated with Wills even hurting his ankle one year.

Christmas Eve presents

While most people wait until Christmas Day itself to rip open their gifts - the royals start a day early.

Once the Christmas Eve football is over, the family sit down for an afternoon tea of sandwiches and scones.

Then at 6pm on the dot, they begin opening presents in Sandringham's drawing room.

And even though they can afford almost anything in the world, they love to give each other wacky gifts.

Darren added: "The crazier and the more quirky is what they love. It’s not about something really amazing or a Cartier watch."

Once the gifts are over, at 8pm all the family sit down for a formal black tie dinner, which usually includes lamb or game from the estate.

According to the Express, they all pull crackers, wear the paper crowns from inside with the Queen even reading out the corny jokes.

The younger princes including Wills and Harry then like to enjoy a pint of Sandringham cider.

Off to church

The royals never forget the true meaning of Christmas and at 11am on the day itself, they make the short journey to St Mary Magadelene Church.

The Queen is always driven there first where she reportedly receives a private communion from her chaplain.

Party time

The rest of the clan then follow on foot and often greet the hundreds of well-wishers who come out to catch a glimpse of them each year.

Christmas games

Like most families, the royals sit down to a traditional turkey dinner before all gathering around a TV at 3pm to watch the Queen's Christmas message.

And again like most families, they then crack out the board games and puzzles for family bonding time.

Then as the day draws to a close, the Sandringham ballroom is transformed into a mini-movie theatre and a projector screen shows a festive film.

While most people's festivities draw to a close after Boxing Day, the royals carry on celebrating.

In fact, the Queen and Prince Philip often stay on at Sandringham until early February and all festive decorations stay in place until then.

This is to honour Her Majesty's late dad George VI, who died at the estate on February 6, 1952.

A very long holiday