venerdì 23 dicembre 2016

A Right Royal Christmas

With the big day just around the corner, I thought I'd take a break from all the prepping and have a look at some Christmas traditions enjoyed by the Royal Family! 🌲

Senior royals usually decamp to Sandringham House in Norfolk, where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh host their immediate family.

While the Duke usually goes by car, and the Queen travels via scheduled train service from King's Cross, this year saw a change of plans: the couple travelled together by helicopter, a more direct and comfortable way to make the journey, given both were reportedly suffering from heavy colds.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Queen starts signing her Christmas cards during her summer holidays. She will write on a stack of around 800 cards during her annual stay at Balmoral, signing off "Elizabeth R." (for "Regina," the Latin word for queen) to politicians and fellow heads of state, "Elizabeth" to friends, and her childhood nickname of "Lilibet" to her cousins.
Her staff usually receive gift vouchers and Christmas puddings, and she has Christmas trees from the Sandringham Estate sent to local schools and churches (these are also available to buy for the general public, should you fancy a tree with royal pedigree!).

A special Golden Jubilee exhibition of the Queen's Christmas cards to her friends and employees over the years since the accession in 1952 took place at Sandringham in 2002. The royal Christmas cards usually feature a photograph of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, sometimes surrounded by their children and grandchildren (below, the cards sent in 1955, 1996 and 1998):

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall's choice of Christmas card is also usually made public (this year it featured a photograph taken in March 2016 during TRH's official visit to the Western Balkans and Croatia, shown below), while it's less likely we'll get a glimpse of the other Royals' cards, including those of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who didn't share the photograph they chose for their card this year.

Another well-loved Sandringham Christmas tradition is the football match that takes place on Christmas Eve between estate workers and members of the Royal Family, including Princes William and Harry, who usually wear the socks of their favorite teams (Aston Villa for William and Arsenal for Harry):

Presents are exchanged on Christmas Eve, not not on Christmas Day, which the Queen regards exclusively as a religious festival. At teatime the family gathers in the White Drawing Room, where the Queen will encourage the younger royals to help put the finishing touches to the Christmas tree - a 20 ft Norfolk spruce from the estate. 

Much like in any other family, where treasured baubles are passed down through the generations, glass angels dating back from the time of Queen Victoria are still in use. The Duke of Edinburgh reportedly puts the finishing touch to the tree by placing a gold star at the top, although one does wonder whether he has renounced this particular tradition in recent years, due to his advancing age.

Trestle tables are laid out in the nearby Red Drawing Room, with sections marked off with tape showing where each family member's gifts should be placed.

Princess Diana's first Christmas with the Royals in 1981 proved somewhat a minefield, as she had bought cashmere and other luxury items for her in-laws, unaware that the key to success in royal present-giving is parsimony, with joke gifts particularly appreciated even by senior royals. 
Less well-known examples reportedly include the light-up pepper mill that Prince Philip received one year, the leopard-print bath mat that Princess Diana gave Sarah Ferguson, and a shower cap that Harry gave the Queen with "Ain't Life a B*tch!" printed on it.
If you favour slightly less jokey presents, be sure to check out my Christmas gift guide inspired by the Duchess of Cambridge, if you haven't already!

While Prince George and Princess Charlotte will this year be spending the festivities away from Sandringha, in Bucklebury with their parents and the Middleton family, it's been reported that they'll be opening some rather special present sacks: the Letterpress Christmas Sacks by Dulwich-based company Harrow & Green, made with hessian and grosgrain ribbon and stamped with the little Princes' names:

After early morning Holy Communion, which is taken privately, Christmas morning is dedicated to church (the Queen goes by car, while the rest of the family makes the short walk from the house to the church of St Mary Magdalene, where Princess Charlotte was christened in July 2015):

After the service, the family sits down to a traditional Christmas meal, which has a local free-range turkey with all the trimmings as its centrepiece. Food is served on a blue and white Copeland dinner service and drinks in crystal stemware engraved with the royal monogram, "EIIR".
Later the Queen retires and leaves the family to sit down and watch her televised Christmas message, a tradition begun in 1932 by her grandfather George V, which is nowadays broadcast at 3pm on television and online. 
Dinner is a much less formal affair, and consists of a buffet supper.

Most guests leave after the traditional Boxing Day shoot to see other family members. The Duchess of Cornwall, for example, will head off to spend time with her children and grandchildren, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge remain at home in nearby Anmer Hall, but the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh remain until the second week of February or thereabouts, to commemorate the anniversary of her accession on 6 Feburary 1952, and the Christmas decorations stay up until then (so no qualms if you're late taking down your own decorations - I know I usually am! - you can always say you're following the Queen's lead!).

I'll see you on Christmas Day with a look at what the Royals wore for church, meanwhile I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

3 commenti:

  1. Buon natale! I'm very happy to share a love of replikating with you and to know you. You're a very nice person. :)

    1. Aww, thank you Kate Middleton Jewelry! Very best wishes to you too, hope you had a great day, and maybe found a replikate or two in your stocking ;)
      Here's to sharing even more replikating tips in the new year!

  2. This is such an informative post. I knew they spend Christmas at Sandringham House and watch the Queen's Christmas message but didn't know the details.