As for the Royal Family, they are certainly no exception when it comes to enjoying the holidays and making the most of what the day is really all about - family. In fact it is one of the very few occasions of the year when so many members of the British Royal Family come together.
|The British Monarchy|
Of course, with the addition of Prince George, it is going to be a particularly joyful year at the royal estate of Sandringham, where the Royal Family spend Christmas Day annually. It has been widely reported William and Kate's decision to spend their son's first Christmas at The Queen's Norfolk Estate has been met by Her Majesty's great delight.
What's on the agenda for William and Kate? What are their plans? When will we see them next? It all kicks off next week when The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend The Queen's annual pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace. The traditional event is one of only two events per year in which Her Majesty summons the entire Royal Family to the Palace (some many recall there were rumblings in the press when Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie chose to attend Holly Branson's wedding instead of the lunch in 2011). Invitations to the lunch are extended to minor royals not invited to Sandringham.
|The Queen's Pre-Christmas Lunch 2012/Roland Hoskins|
We can expect to see arrival photos of the Cambridges as we have in previous years. We don't have a definitive date, but we do know Her Majesty is travelling to Sandringham mid to late next week, so it could quite possibly be early in the week.
|The Queen's Pre-Christmas Lunch 2011/Roland Hoskins|
The Queen and Prince Philip arriving at Sandringham via train last year.
It has been reported the Cambridges plan to take their staff out for Christmas lunch next week, too. Last year, the couple hired 'The Queen's Room' at local restaurant chain Bumpkin in Notting Hill for 27 members of staff. The group enjoyed a traditional turkey lunch with all the trimmings and Christmas pudding for dessert. Mulled wine was served at the meal, which was described as a 'low-key affair'.
|Bumpkin Facebook Page|
It is unlikely photos will emerge from the private luncheon, although we could very well hear details. Below we look at a sumptuous Christmas lunch from Bumpkin.
|Bumpkin Facebook Page|
When packing for Sandringham, Kate will have planned long in advance with the knowledge Christmas Day involves no less than five changes of outfit. From coats and boots for walks, to long gowns and jewels, the Duchess will need to take a number of looks with her. The Duchess of York famously complained about changing seven times during Christmas Day. In 2011, Kate told a guest at an Imperial War Museum engagement she was nervous about the numerous changes.
Royal etiquette expert Jean Brooke-Smith told Grazia magazine:
'Kate will need a casual outfit for breakfast, a smart outfit - and a hat - for the morning church service, a dress for lunch, a cocktail dress for early evening drinks and a full-length dress for the evening meal. The golden rule is nothing too short, too revealing, or too gaudy.'
On Christmas Eve, more than twenty-five royals will join The Queen and Prince Philip at Sandringham. Timed arrivals are very much observed; most junior royals first, most senior royals last - and all are expected to be prompt. Upon arrival, William and Kate will be ushered to their rooms, furnished in the post-war Spartan style, and including two bar electric fires and blankets. By early afternoon, everyone will be in attendance.
Sandringham is a majestic country house on 20,00 acres of land. It has been the private home of four generations of sovereigns since 1862. It has played host to Her Majesty's festivities since the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992, and she remains there from mid-December to February each year. When The Queen or members of the Royal Family are not in residence, the house is open to the public. William and Kate's new country home, Anmer Hall, which is currently undergoing renovations, is on the Sandringham Estate.
A look at the list of royals who spent Christmas at Sandringham in 2011. There may be slight changes to the list this year, most notably the addition of Prince George.
At 4 p.m., following a change of clothes, the family gathers in the White Drawing Room for Earl Grey tea, cakes, home-made scones and a chat. At this point, The Queen encourages the younger royals to add decorations and finishing touches to the tree - a Norfolk spruce taken from the estate. In fact, The Queen adores Christmas trees and has one in each room. The Master of the Household then gives each member a timetable and room plan, so they know where to be and when, during their stay.
The Queen will then give the go ahead for gifts to be presented and opened. They are not opened on Christmas Day, as The Queen adheres to strict observance of the religious festival. Trestle tables are laid out in the nearby Red Drawing Room, with sections marked off showing each family member's gifts, laid out in order of precedence.
What do you give the family that has everything? Princess Diana realised very early on that giving gifts to family was far more complicated than she initially thought. Generously gifting luxury items including cashmere, she soon discovered the key to the perfect present lay in 'the cheaper, the better'. For example, Prince Harry reportedly once gave his grandmother a shower hat with the slogan 'Ain't life a bitch on it'. Kate is said to have given jars of her home-made strawberry jam, plum reserve and photo frames as presents. Simple gifts the family would have appreciated, I'm sure.
Afterwards they will all move through to the hall for Martinis and cider. Then it's back to their rooms for baths and another change of clothes. After a gong at 8 p.m. (yes, start thinking scenes from Downton Abbey) guests emerge for dinner. Men will be dressed in black tie, while the women will be draped in full-length gowns and dazzling jewels. This could be a perfect occasion to bring back the stunning lace Alexander McQueen gown she wore to the annual Diplomatic Reception. Of course, we won't see it again, but it is simply ideal.
Pre-drinks will be served before the royals enjoy a candlelit three-course meal which will most likely consist of lamb or locally sourced game. Once dinner is finished, the women move to another room for coffee, whilst the men enjoy liqueurs. That concludes Christmas eve, at which point the royals will be off for a good night's sleep before the day ahead.
Christmas Day at Sandringham means a bright and early start. No doubt William and Kate will spend the morning with George before joining the others for the annual walk to St. Mary Magdalene Church, located on the estate. A crowd of locals will wait outside the church handing flowers to the royals and hoping to speak with them for a moment or two. This year, locals are said to be hugely excited and hope to see the little prince. I think this highly unlikely, unfortunately, but George will join his parents for the church walk when he gets older.
When the royals return to the house it is yet another outfit change before they all sit down for Christmas lunch at 1.15 p.m. Norfolk turkey, accompanied by a selection of cold meats and a variety of side dishes are served. It's an incredibly busy and drawn out affair for staff (once again, think Downton Abbey) with junior staff eating their lunch at 11 am, and the royal chef the last to eat at 4 p.m.
At precisely 3pm the family gathers round to watch The Queen's Christmas message. This year, Her Majesty's speech should include clips of the christening and possibly - just possibly - a shot from the Diplomatic Reception. You can find out more information on the Christmas broadcast at the Monarchy's official website and view Her Majesty's 2012 message here.
|The British Monarchy|
In the afternoon, the family go for long walks with the dogs. Kate will quite likely take George in his Silver Cross stroller. Similarly to families all around the world, the evening will consist of board games and television. This year's television schedule includes Downton Abbey, Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing specials. I do wonder what the Windsor clan will tune in to!
Boxing Day begins with a kedgeree breakfast and the annual pheasant shoot on the estate, with the men shooting and the women picking up the birds. I believe it is at this point the Middleton family will join the Royal Family.
It has been reported in the press that Kate's family have been invited by The Queen to spend Christmas Day in Norfolk, but according to royal reporter Richard Palmer this is unlikely. He added, if Carole Middleton emerges alongside The Queen to drive to the church he will cartwheel naked down the path. Luckily for Richard, I don't believe it will be necessary.
After Boxing Day, I expect William, Kate and George will return to Bucklebury, Berkshire with the Middletons where they will ring in the New Year. The couple spent last Christmas with the Middleton family and will possibly continue to alternate in the future. It's important for them to include both families and to forge their own path within the Royal Family.
Now we've looked at the Royal Family's Christmas, please feel free to share your plans and traditions. We're very lucky to have a diverse readership from around the world. Personally, my fiancé and I are spending Christmas with my family and we're looking forward to a traditional, relaxing and fun time when we can reflect on the year and enjoy down time together.
Christmas classics such as It's a Wonderful Life and childhood go-to movies including The Santa Claus will be the order of the day with a Church service, long walk with the dogs, and Christmas lunch beforehand. From my fiancé's stuffing to my sisters rather moist mashed potatoes (I love them really sis) it promises to be a wonderful lunch and a terrific Christmas. The evening will consist of drinks, board games and television (including a couple of the aforementioned specials). I'm very much looking forward to it!
How will you and your family mark the day?