Friday, 3 December 2021

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

As faithful readers of 'Duchess Kate' know, I adore the festive season. Spending a good deal of the weekend adding finishing touches to Christmas d├ęcor (because yes, there's always space to add an extra garland or flourish) led me to survey seasonal haunts online. We are very much in cautious territory where the pandemic is concerned in the United Kingdom due to the discovery of a new variant in the past week. We're seeing a rethink in terms of travel plans, especially overseas, for some in the weeks ahead. With that in mind, I thought if it's a quiet week on the royal front, I wanted to allot my 'blogging time' to sharing royalty related news and updates to get you into the spirit.

First, as you will have heard, the Duchess of Cambridge is hosting a Christmas Carol Service at Westminster Abbey next Wednesday, 8 December. Kensington Palace said, "Spearheaded by the Duchess, the service will be a celebration of life in our communities, and illustrate how acts of kindness, empathy and love can nurture and reconnect us. Filmed for broadcast, it will be a moment for the nation to come together and look back on the last eighteen months, to think not only of the unprecedented challenges that we have all faced as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to remember the positives: people and organisations pulling together in their communities, the small acts of kindness across different demographics and generations, and the unsung heroes who stepped up to help others." A variety of guests will sing carols and give readings. It will air later in the month on ITV, though I think it likely we'll see arrival photos, etc. on Wednesday. It begins at 5 pm. It's been reported George, Charlotte and Louis might be in attendance.

Her Majesty is recuperating at Windsor Castle where she is undertaking light duties. Though she reportedly intends to host a large number of family members at Sandringham in keeping with tradition, there is growing speculation the annual pre-Christmas luncheon could be held at Windsor. Below, the Cambridge children departing the 2019 lunch.


In fact, Windsor is equally as closely associated with royal Christmas celebrations as Sandringham. Monarchs marking the occasion since the twelfth century include Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their family. Norfolk was the preference of King Edward VII, King George V and King George VI. During the Queen's reign, festivities were enjoyed at Windsor until the late 1980s when extensive work was being carried out. Last year, the Queen and Prince Philip spent their last Christmas together at Windsor, the first time they had celebrated there since 1987. Below, a James Roberts watercolour commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1850, showing the State Apartments at Windsor.

Should Windsor be chosen for the luncheon -- I think you'll agree it looks fantastic.


The 18-foot tall tree in St George's Hall is taken from Windsor Great Park and dressed in a dazzling array of ornaments.


The Royal Collection Trust are inviting visitors this month to experience a Fairy-tale Christmas, a special display of costumes worn by the Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) and Princess Margaret as teenagers performing in pantomimes in Windsor Castle during the Second World War. The costumes are on display in the Waterloo Chamber where pantomime pictures adorn the walls.


More from the RCT:
'At the beginning of the Second World War, the series of portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence that usually line the walls of the Waterloo Chamber were removed from their frames for safe keeping. To make the space more festive, 16 ‘pantomime pictures’ were commissioned to cover the bare walls.

The teenage evacuee and part-time art student Claude Whatham, recreated characters including Cinderella, Peter Pan and Puss in Boots on rolls of wallpaper. After the war, the portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence were returned to the Waterloo Chamber, and the pantomime pictures remained hidden beneath them. They have been revealed just once since the war, following the fire of 1992. During the recent closure of the Castle, the portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence were removed to facilitate essential maintenance work. The newly revealed pantomime pictures can be seen by visitors to Windsor Castle.'

Below, a closer look at 17-year-old Whatham's Aladdin and Little Red Riding Hood.

Princess Elizabeth wore a gold brocade and turquoise ensemble in the title role of Aladdin. A dress of silk damask trimmed with silk braid and a silk jacket worn by Princess Margaret in the role of Princess Roxanna.

The Princesses in Aladdin.

Embed from Getty Images

Elizabeth and Margaret in gorgeous gowns for a 1944 performance of 'Old Mother Red Riding Boots'.

Embed from Getty Images

Click here for more information on visiting.

For those further afield considering a virtual visit, there's an online lecture on Tuesday, 7 December, during which expert wardens will take guests on a Zoom tour through the castle and tales of Christmases past. If interested in finding out more, click here.

The Luna Winter Cinema opens from the 12th December in the pavilion at Kensington Palace. An array of iconic films, including ElfHome AloneIt's a Wonderful Life and Die Hard can be enjoyed by guests with mulled wine and mince pies. Now, this would be a fabulous setting to host a Christmas movie for a festive royal engagement.

A winter wonderland scene at the Tower of London this December.

Last week, a lovely reader named Zora emailed me about Giving Tuesday. I've been thinking about small ways our Christmas preparations can positively impact vital charities who have been dealt a dreadful blow in terms of fundraising and charity shops due to COVID-19. I've been following East Anglia's Children's Hospices and was saddened to read the charity has been operating at a £2 million deficit this year. The shortfall saw a difficult decision taken to not renew office leases and the closure of their charity shop in Stowmarket after eleven years. EACH has had a special place in my heart for some time, and I know a number of you have supported their inspiring and essential efforts over the years.

As part of the Big Christmas Give, donations given until Tuesday could be matched. Click here to find out more.

Donations will help support families like Annabel's -- the value of which cannot be overstated. The team go above and beyond to help in any way they can during unimaginably challenging times for families.

The Treehouse hospice has received a notable donation from Fiona Allan -- a pair of relatable elves have arrived to spread Christmas cheer. The pair were custom made with one elf bearing a nasal cannular for oxygen, and the other a tracheostomy and nasogastric tube for feeding.


More from the East Anglian Daily Times:
'Rachel Van Den Brink-Budgen, a specialist nurse at EACH, said: "The idea is that these elves are inclusive, and children will relate to them in a way they might not otherwise.

“They will be able to see elves that look the same as them or appear to have been through something similar. It’s very special.

“I suspect a lot of the children that come to us for respite care will have an elf at home. They might miss them if they’re here for two or three nights and this will hopefully help.

“It’s a lovely touch and something fun for the staff, too.

“I sent an email saying ‘guess who’s back’, because we had elves here last year, and had some great responses.'
A splendid selection of EACH Christmas Cards available for £3.50. They also have an eBay shop which is filled with a trove of items, many of which are less than £5.

A variety of fundraising carol services are taking place this week.

Community spirit is at its very best when we come together to give back. Lowestoft Street is appropriately being renamed 'Christmas Lane' for the month as residents join forces to illuminate their homes in support of EACH. The co-ordinated display will be a treat for locals in aid of a wonderful cause. Participant Denise Bretton said, "We’re very proud of our Christmas display. It’s been happening for years, and more and more people seem to come along every time. However, this is the first year we’ve raised money, and when we floated the idea among residents, everyone was keen to support EACH." Denise added, "It’s a special cause and we want to raise as much as possible, by working together to make Christmas that little bit better and more bearable for children, young people and families being supported across East Anglia."

I'm leaving you with Cue the Queen: Celebrating the Queen's Christmas Speech -- a thoroughly enjoyable watch from 2017. It takes a closer look at how the tradition started in 1932 by King George V has grown to hold a special place in our Christmas Days.

How are your preparations coming along?

14 comments:

  1. Tammy from California4 December 2021 at 03:55

    Well, I just LOVED this post!! My favorite time for the royals is Christmas. This was a nice kick-off. Hopefully we will still see them at outings and I'm really chomping at the bit to see this year" Christmas card!

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  2. It will lovely a lovely occasion to sit in church and listen to the beautiful Christmas songs. It is a very special time. Christmas is magical. Wonder about this years Christmas speech by the Queen. Hope we see them at Sandringham?.

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  3. This just ended my night on a very happy note!

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  4. This is all fascinating! I learned so much; the images of teen-aged Elizabeth and Margaret and their costumes, etc. are so interesting. And I'd love to hop on a plane and go to the Luna Winter Cinema. Thank you, Charlotte, for so much.

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  5. What a wonderful post! Thank you, Charlotte.

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  6. What a great post!! Learned much about Christmases past for the Royals! Hoping to visit your side of the pond one day soon and have a chance to take in the sights and sounds in person. Know this will be a bittersweet Christmas for the Queen and their family as the first without Phillip present. Blessings to all this Christmas season ...

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  7. There are some good pictures of the Christmas decorations at Holyrood.

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  8. The decorations at the White House look really lovey this year if anyone is interested: https://whitehouse.gov1.info/visit/white-house-christmas-tour.html

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  9. Thank you for this post! There are so many wonderful components, and I look forward to checking each one out! Sue

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  10. Charlotte, do you know where we could find and listen to William's quiet walks? Also will Catherine's Christmas Carolevent tomorrow be televised in the states? Any insight would be appreciated, you are the source for all things!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hello,

      I believe William's podcast is linked to Apple Watch Fitness + subscriptions. It's part of the Time To Walk series. A free streaming was made available on Monday via Apple Music 1 for listeners.

      There's no word on Kate's carol concert airing in the US at the moment, however it will air on ITV Christmas Eve, 7.30 pm. I hope to have a YouTube link by Christmas morning service at Sandringham.

      The carol concert kicks off at 5 pm today, rehearsals are underway at Westminster Abbey as we speak.

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    2. Thank you Charlotte! As always you keep us connected!! Again, thanks, can't wait for Christmas morning at Sandringham!!!

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  11. I have always thought Kate looked really pretty in the black cardigan and tartan skirt for Christmas.

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  12. Sarah from Calif.13 December 2021 at 15:36

    Beautiful post!!!

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