Just like for the majority of Christian families around the world, Christmas for the Royal Family is a time to spend together. Sandringham Estate and Sandringham House in Norfolk in the English countryside hosts the Members of the Windsor Family. It is not Royal property but has been private property of the Windsors since 1862, when the estate was purchased by Queen Victoria for her son Edward The Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VII).
Royal Christmases, however, returned to the estate at the end of the 1980s after the maintenance work supervised by the Duke of Edinburgh had been finished. The place itself has sad memories for the Queen though, since her father King George VI died in Sandringham on 6 February 1952. Therefore Her Majesty never leaves Sandringham Estate after the Christmas season, but stays there until the anniversary.
It is part of the Windor’s Sandringham Christmas to attend the church service at St Mary Magdalene Church. Instead of being driven there by car or carried in a coach, the Royals walk to the service and talk to members of the public (except for the Queen).
Her Majesty broke a long-lasting tradition in 2017 when Meghan Markle (now Duchess of Sussex) was allowed to join the Royal Christmas. Meghan and Harry were already engaged by then, but according to traditions, the Queen had only invited married couples to Sandringham. Kate Middleton (now Duchess of Cambridge) for instance was not alowed to join before becoming wife of Prince William, however, Kate’s family lives in England while Meghan’s parents live in the United States.
In 2019, The Sussexes (Prince Henry, Meghan and their son, Archie) are staying away from Sandringham since they are relaxing in Canada for a longer period, over Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Traditional Royal Christmases include many games played together, staying up late at night (no one can leave the company and go to bed before Her Majesty) and watching “Granny’s Christmas Message” together on TV on Christmas Day.
The Queen does not forget about her people in the U.K. and the Commonwealth so that she sends her Christmas Message to them by a recorded television broadcast on-air on 25 December at exactly 3 p.m. (and since the 2010s it is uploaded to the Monarchy’s official online profiles and channels, too). In that message, the Queen shares her views about Christmas (the themes drawn by Dickens in ‘A Christmas Carol’) and deals with current world matters. Her Majesty personally gives her presents to her staff at Buckingham Palace; each member gets a voucher depending on which they choose – one for gifts or one for books.
Watch something truly British – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Christmas Speech.
Turn the Subtitles on but be careful – they’re not always correct.