IN some rarely seen shots, the Royal Family opens up their family album to offer us a glimpse of what Christmas is like for them over the years.
What gifts do they share? What tipple does Her Majesty wash down the turkey dinner with? And what Christmas TV special is a must view in the royal household? These special snapshots might answer a few of those burning questions…
They may have access to the crown jewels, but like any other family across the UK the royals, too, will be donning their Christmas cracker paper crowns.
All gathered round for a lavish turkey dinner, the sight is a familiar one.
Though in this scenario, the scene is set in slightly more lavish surroundings – that of the very stately Sandringham.
The plush Norfolk abode boasts more than one imposing Christmas tree, all decorated by dainty glass baubles owned previously by Queen Victoria no less.
And the Queen selects the 20ft tree herself, having a vast selection to chose from on the huge estate.
As seen from one picture alongside her late mother, the Queen admires some of the more modern and kitsch decorations, including a little festive teddy bear.
The very exclusive guestlist enjoys a striking mix of paper crowns and authentic tiaras, mashed and roast potatoes and a specially designed canine Christmas meal for the beloved Corgis.
Oh, and like most families, the real party gets going once the elders have slipped off to bed.
But before the festivities have even commenced, the Queen has already got celebrations in motion with a special Christmas gathering for extended family at Buckingham Palace- as seen this week when Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte all were snapped looking pretty partied out.
Just days later Prince Philip was admitted to hospital after a fall and months of ill health so it could be a different Christmas for the Queen this year as she faces the festivities alone.
Traditionally however, Her Royal Highness has already recorded the Christmas speech and made her way to Sandringham – which like it’s summer counter part Balmoral, has now become synonymous with Winter for the Royal Family.
Celebrations start early on Christmese Eve, where after enjoying a traditional afternoon tea in Sandringham’s opulant saloon, gifts are exchanged and unwrapped at 6pm on the dot.
The family are known for enjoying a Christmas gag and presents tend to veer towards the more humorous side.
Princess Di famously had a shock during her first Christmas at Sandringham when after giving Princess Anne a luxurious cashmere jumper, was presented with a novelty toilet-paper holder in return.
And this tradition was one that the notoriously cheeky Prince Harry took to naturally – he’s said to have given Her Majesty a shower cap embossed with the words ‘Ain’t life a b****?”
After the kids have been sent to bed, it’s time for the adults to enjoy some glitz and glam at the black tie soire.
The four-course meal will get underway with pre-dinner martinis and conclude with a lavish cheese board and chocolate option, the Queen’s favourite of course.
All meals up until the Boxing Day feast will have been pre-approved by the Queen who will tick her preference on a list of multiple options.
Former royal chef Darren McGrady revealed that the Corgis are even treated to a special, festive meal consisting of beef and rabbit – well it is Christmas for the canines too!
On Christmas morning the Queen is woken up to a knock on the door at 9am from a royal aide presenting her with a simple breakfast including coffee, fruit and toast.
While others can opt for a more opulant start to the day with guests getting to enjoy a buffet spread of cereals and all the components of a full English.
And in the special pictures we see multiple generations of the family – from Prince William and Catherine to Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice – making their way to the 11am Christmas day service at St Mary Magdalene Church.
As always crowds gather to greet their royal representatives, giving them flowers and gifts along the 330ft walk to the church – as seen with a young Harry and his mother Princess Diana carrying presents given to them by the throng of waiting people.
And it’s said that despite never normally carrying change, the Queen makes sure to bring along a 5 note for the service’s collection.
Like most households across the UK, the eating, drinking and general being merry-ness really gets underway with some pre-lunch drinks – a gin and Dubonnet for Her Majesty and a beer for the Duke of Edinburgh.
While the children retire to their nurserys for a nap, the older generations get to enjoy a lavish spread in a surprisingly relaxed setting.
There are no nameplaces or pre-decided seating arrangements at the table and even the Queen often chooses to slot in in the middle of the table, not at the head as one might have assumed.
And the family also indulge in pulling crackers, as supplied by Royal Warrant holder Tom Smith.
It’s the one occasion where the royals’ crowns will match thousands of others worn across the UK.
The meal itself also resembles those across the country, McGrady revealed:
“Its the one day of the year that the head chef is permitted to enter the dining room, to carve the bird at the table.
“Once hes finished, the Queen will offer him a tot of whisky and wish him a happy Christmas.
“The turkey is served with mashed and roast potatoes, chestnut or sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce and bread sauce.
“Vegetables include brussels sprouts, carrots and roast parsnips.”
And it’s said that Her Majesty likes to wash down her meal with a gewrztraminer white wine.
The family then tuck into a Christmas pudding prepared a year in advance for the flavours to marinate – but though full in flavour, lacking in a hidden sixpence.
Following the meal a Fortnum and Mason’s Christmas hamper will arrive for everyone to tuck in to.
McGrady revealed: “The Harrods hamper used to be sent as an appreciation of the Royals business.
“It would arrive on Christmas Eve containing wheels of stilton, a whole foie gras en croute and other exotic treats.
“One year, Prince Charles had a rival hamper sent, full of organic produce from his Highgrove estate.
“The Duke of Edinburgh wandered into the kitchen and was poking around, asking questions.
’Its from the Prince of Wales,’ I said. ‘Its his organic food.’
“Philip rolled his eyes. ‘Bloody organic,’ he muttered, and stomped off.”
In what can only be imagined to feel like a case of seeing double, the family then sit down to watch The Queen’s speech – how meta!
It’s then time to enjoy some downtime, a leisurely walk, a rest ahead of evening activities, and an outfit change of course.
The evening meal is comprised of a boar’s head, meats and mixed seafood… as well as the Queen’s personal favourites – Bendicks chocolate mints.
Despite it being a long day of eating and drinking, noone can go to bed before the Queen.
But it sounds like you might not want to as that’s when the real bonanza begins.
The staff gather for drinks and merriment at a disco, but must be vigilant not to go overboard as they’ll need to be alert and ready to prepare tomorrow’s breakfast at an eye-watering 6:30am.
And to finish the merriments off with a bang, quite literally, the annual Boxing Day hunt takes place.
Then it’s all over until next year – Better get that Christmas pud whipped up for 2020’s celebrations!
In other royal news, we told you how the Queen was uncomfortable with unmarried Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds staying overnight at Balmoral
We also exclusively showed you Prince George making a Christmas pudding.
Plus, this year the Queen could be facing Christmas alone after Prince Philip remains in hospital.