Photos: How the Royals celebrate Christmas and running order at Sandringham
The Royals arrive in Sandringham on the afternoon of Christmas Eve – following the Queen’s arrival on Thursday

Here’s how they spend their three-day Sandringham celebration…

Christmas Eve

The Royals descend on Sandringham in the afternoon on December 24 – joining the Queen, 92, and Prince Philip, 97, who travelled up on Thursday.

The family break with British tradition and open their presents after a 4pm afternoon tea on Christmas Eve, as the Germans do, and it’s only gag gifts allowed.

“They enjoy a bit of a giggle – they have a tremendous sense of humour,” Alexandra Messervy, who worked for the Royals, told Yahoo.

They open their presents on December 24 – and it’s only gag gifts allowed

Prince Harry, 34, famously gave his grandma a shower cap with ‘Ain’t Life A B****’ written on it in 2013.

While most of us are slobbing around in our festive PJs, the Royals are dressed to impress – with a strict black tie dress code for dinner at 8.15pm on Christmas Eve.

They enjoy martinis before the meal and a selection of liquers after. Cheers!

Dinner is served at 8.15pm sharp and it’s a black tie affair

Christmas Day

The Royal couples part ways on Christmas morning, when the men head downstairs for a Full English at 8.30am sharp.

The hearty fry up includes eggs, bacon, mushrooms, kippers and grilled kidneys –according to the Queen’s former chef Darren McGrady.

While the ladies tend to enjoy a light breakfast of sliced fruit, half a grapefruit, toast and coffee in their rooms. The Queen’s tray is delivered at precisely 9am.

And the Royals aren’t the only ones who split up on Christmas morning.

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Etiquette expert Grant Harrold told us it’s common for married women to remain upstairs for breakfast in posh households, although single ladies should come downstairs and be “sociable”.

The women eat fruit and toast in their rooms on Christmas morning, while the blokes head downstairs for a fry up

Breakfast is followed by the annual 11am trip to the St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, to be greeted by a crowd of Royal fans waiting outside.

One fan Karen Anvil, 40, hit the jackpot last year when she made £40,000 from an iconic photo of the Fab Four strolling towards church.

The single mum has quit her job, supported her daughter’s nursing education and taken her first holiday abroad thanks to her proceeds from the snap.

Prince George, five, Princess Charlotte, three, and Prince Louis, eight months, are all yet to make an appearance at the service – although this could be the first year for the future king.

Kate and Wills’ eldest were papped at a Christmas Day church service two years ago, when they celebrated in Berkshire with the Middletons.

The Royals then make the trip to the St Mary Magdalene Church at 11am
The Royals then make the trip to the St Mary Magdalene Church at 11am


Kate and Will’s kids are yet to join them – although Prince George and Princess Charlotte went to a Christmas Day service in Berkshire two years ago

Christmas dinner is served at 1pm – and it’s a traditional feast with roast turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts.


It’s the only day of the year the Royal chef is allowed to enter the dining room, to carve the bird at the table before enjoying a glass of whiskey with Her Maj.

The main is followed by Christmas pudding, which is served with brandy butter and brandy sauce an hour later.

The kids are said to eat separately in the nursery, at half 12.

The Queen also served a Christmas lunch on December 19, to celebrate with family members like Zara Tindall and Lady Louise Windsor – who won’t be joining them on the day.

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Lunch is served at 1pm - followed by pudding at 2pm

There will be no festive films for the Royals on Christmas Day, with the family only allowed to watch one thing on the box – the Queen’s Speech.

Pre-recorded and shown at 3pm, the Queen has done a televised Christmas broadcast every year since 1957.

She doesn’t like to watch herself, and is said to go for a walk around Sandringham’s 8,000 hectare grounds instead.

After this, the Royals keep themselves entertained with Charades – which we’re sure former actress Meghan Markle, 37, will love.

Royal running order

  • Arrivals throughout the afternoon
  • 4pm: Afternoon tea, followed by gag presents
  • 8.15pm: Black tie dinner
  • 8.30am: Full English downstairs for the men
  • 9am: The Queen gets her breakfast in bed
  • 11am: Sandringham church service
  • 1pm: Christmas lunch
  • 2pm: Pudding
  • 3pm: Queen’s speech followed by Charades
  • 8.15pm: Buffet dinner

Christmas is a time for feasting and the Royals are no different to the rest of us in this way.

They enjoy an evening buffet at 8.15pm – but don’t expect to see turkey cold cuts or sausage rolls on the menu.

The gang will tuck into a freshly roasted ham instead.

No-one’s allowed to go to bed before the Queen, who’s normally up until midnight on Christmas Day.

The family reportedly change clothes five times on December 25 alone, with Kate Middleton admitting she was feeling the pressure at a charity event just before her first visit to Sandringham in 2011.

Boxing Day

There's a traditional Boxing Day pheasant shoot before the family head home
There’s a traditional Boxing Day pheasant shoot before the family head home

Boxing Day sees another hearty fry up, followed by the annual pheasant shoot.

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Royal source recently dismissed claims Meghan has banned Harry from taking part in the hunt, after he skipped it last year.

Animal lover Meghan follows a vegan diet during the week and has been encouraging Harry cut down on his meat consumption, according to reports

News Reporter