The Exhausting Traditions the Royal Family Follows on Christmas Day


Even on Christmas Day, the royal family adheres to a strict schedule. They are traditionalists in every sense of the word, and every year is pretty much indistinguishable from the prior. A former royal chef reveals the exhausting traditions the royal family follows on Christmas Day. These include a busy 24 hours, including public appearances, lots of good food, plenty of outfit changes, and yes, even time away from each other.

How does the royal family begin Christmas Day?

Former royal chef Darren McGrady, who worked for the Windsors for 15 years, told People Magazine that nothing much will likely have changed from his days behind the carving station and in the kitchens.

The royal family begins Christmas Day, similar to many other families. While they follow the German tradition of opening gifts on Christmas Eve, those members with small children enjoy watching them open their gifts from Father Christmas.

McGrady claims that the royal breakfast on Christmas morning is heavy on meat, including bacon and sausage, kippers and kidneys, juices and cereals. However, the women usually have fruit and perhaps a boiled egg taken to their rooms on trays.

A quirk of some royal family members includes some family members bringing their china to breakfast. McGrady explained, “I had to make sure it went on the right plate. The queen Mum’s was a pattern she had at home; she wanted it for her breakfast. They like the continuity.”

Following breakfast, the royal family walks to Christmas services

The royal family walks to Christmas services in 2022 | Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images

Former royal chef Darren McGrady explains that the family gets ready for Christmas services following breakfast. They typically walk to St. Mary Magdalene for 11 am mass.

The royals have celebrated Christmas at Sandringham House in Norfolk for generations. Their walk to church on December 25 has become a holiday mainstay. 

Following Queen Elizabeth’s death, King Charles will likely continue her traditions as he continues his reign. The royal family has always been meticulous about their Christmas traditions, and Charles will continue those set by his late mother.

In December 2022, Charles, Camilla, Queen Consort, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis walked together to church. They spoke to passersby as they traveled to mass.

The royal family spends Christmas Day eating and enjoying some personal time

While the royal family is at church, Darren McGrady revealed that the kitchen team at Sandringham is busy. They are carving turkeys and putting the finishing touches on the Christmas Day meal.

Queen Elizabeth was always the first in line for the carving. She would then present the head chef with a drink, and he would toast the family by saying, “Merry Christmas.”

The royal family Christmas buffet includes foie gras, boar’s head, venison, and salmon trout. Once the guests have seated, butlers serve Brussels sprouts, roasted chestnuts, and roasted potatoes.

The family enjoys Christmas pudding, brandy sauce, mince pies, and hard butter for dessert. Following this, the family watches the monarch’s address to the nation, then retires to walk, exercise, or rest.

In the evening, the family reconvenes for a cold buffet. McGrady revealed, “All the food from lunch goes back out for the buffet. And there will be mixed salads and hot new potatoes. And they have the [sweet] mince pies and put the brandy butter inside.”

The royal family will convene at Sandringham for the Christmas season.


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