Like many of us, the Royal Family will gather together around a trimmed tree this Christmas and pause to reflect upon the passing year. The royals also celebrate the season, like many families, with traditions that have been passed down through the years.
Let’s take a look at some of the Royal traditions at Christmas:
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, also known as Queen Victoria’s husband, was the first to really get things rolling in the Royal Family. The Prince Consort introduced the Christmas tree, a German tradition, a custom that soon spread throughout England.
Today, the Royal Family spend Christmas at Sandringham, the Norfolk estate acquired in 1866 by the Queen’s great-grandfather, Edward VII. Sandringham quickly became a part of the family’s holiday traditions.
The Queen arrives at Sandringham for Christmas and works there until February (when she’s not in residence, the house is open to the public). It is at Sandringham that the Royal Family partake of their favorite outdoor pursuit – grouse shooting.
The Queen’s great-grandfather, as Prince of Wales, absolutely loved the outdoors and shooting was a passion. It’s because of Edward that Sandringham developed its own timeframe, aptly named “Sandringham Time”. Edward set the all the clocks a half an hour later in order to obtain the most time from the waning winter light so that he could shoot.
Edward’s son, George V, maintained Sandringham Time even during his own reign. This unique tradition ended during the brief reign of his controversial grandson and namesake, Edward VIII.
The Queen and Prince Philip, along with their children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren, all attend the annual Christmas Day church service at a small chapel within the estate. Afterwards, they partake of Christmas lunch and break open crackers filled with paper hats and jokes.
Later in the afternoon, the royals sit down to watch Her Majesty’s televised Christmas message to the nation. This particular tradition began in 1932 with her grandfather, George V. The king broadcast his Christmas address via radio from a room in Sandringham, and the tradition lives on today. The Queen made history of her own when she delivered her first televised Christmas message in 1957 from the library at Sandringham.
This year, the Royal Family celebrate Christmas with new members of the team – the new Duchess of Cambridge and her sister, Pippa.
The former Kate Middleton, who married Prince William last April, is spending her first Christmas at Sandringham. Reports say that her younger sister Pippa (Philippa) is joining her.
For more about the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, visit SandringhamEstate.co.uk
Happy Christmas (and Frohe Weihnachten)!