King Charles will bring back royal Christmas traditions at Sandringham

In the past two Christmases, Queen Elizabeth II stayed in Windsor Castle, where her staff and security formed “the HMS Bubble” around her, for her own protection. She still got Covid somehow, so it’s not like the system was particularly effective. But the point is that the last time the Windsors did a big “royal Christmas at Sandringham” was 2019. Well, now that King Charles is in charge, he’s bringing back the royal Christmas tradition. I kind of hope he updates it, truly.

King Charles III is is set to spend Christmas Day at Sandringham this year – following in the steps of his mother – and marking a return to the traditional royal family Christmas on the Norfolk estate. The monarch, 74, and the Queen Consort are expected to be joined by their wider family as they mark their first festive season without the late Queen.

It follows a two-year break, when, due to the Covid pandemic, Her Majesty had spent the period at Windsor Castle two years in a row – the first with the Duke of Edinburgh, separated from her wider family in lockdown.

Buckingham Palace has confirmed that the royal decided to travel to Sandringham House – where Queen Elizabeth II hosted her family over the festive period throughout the decades – to spend the poignant first Yuletide since his accession to the throne.

Royal Christmases usually feature a morning trip to St Mary Magdalene Church, the greeting of well-wishers, and a family lunch with turkey and all the trimmings. The Prince and Princess of Wales – along with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – are often among the gathered guests.

[From The Daily Mail]

One of those royal reporters said something about how Prince William and Kate wouldn’t be allowed to spend Christmas in Bucklebury anymore, now that they have the Wales titles. It’s true – they’ll be expected to spend the holiday in Sandringham, meaning they’ll probably just stay at Anmer Hall (which they never gave up). They’ll probably invite the extended Middleton family to Norfolk too. I would imagine the Wessexes will go to Sandringham, as will Princess Anne. Will Prince Andrew be invited? Hm.

As for the royal Christmas traditions… the traditions are from the Victorian age, and they’re very Germanic and tight-ass. It’s especially difficult for royals with young children, because the schedule doesn’t really allow for parents to enjoy the holiday by the tree, playing with the kids and all of that. I doubt Charles will change much in his first year.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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68 Responses to “King Charles will bring back royal Christmas traditions at Sandringham”

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  1. Flower says:

    It’ll be Chuck and the Cambs if he’s lucky.

    I don’t see Charles as some great patriarch acting as the glue to keep that super dysfunctional family together.

    • SarahCS says:

      If I were Andrew or the Wessexes I would not accept a mince pie from Charles! Not that he would hand round anything himself but I’m sure he could pay one of the cooks or footmen well enough to head down the Borgia route.

      • Lady D says:

        Maybe one of them will give Charles a nice box of chocolates for Christmas?

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        Or, an inkwell that can move itself a few inches to the right. Sandringham royal Christmas traditions sound like they suck. How ’bout giving Sandringham employees the whole week off with pay to spend time with their families. That would be a more modernized monarchy-where they have to do things themselves. Cook their own meals, wipe their own asses, put their toothpaste on their own toothbrushes, etc,…a shocking idea.

  2. Amy Bee says:

    Charles is a traditionalist as his mother so nothing will change. I do wonder if the Yorks and Philips will continue to go. It’s bit different now it’s their uncle who is head of the family instead of their grandmother.

    • dee(2) says:

      It’s bizarre to me that more of them don’t say no to these annual treks. They all are married with kids, and some grandkids, and its odd to think they want to travel for hours every year rather than spend it with their immediate family and friends. In my family we pretty much know who is on rotation for the year as people go to their in-laws some years, stay in their own houses in their pj’s some years, and then come to our side some years. I couldn’t imagine if my husband’s family expected us to go to his grandmother’s every single year for the rest of our lives.

      • The Hench says:

        Different though if the hosting relative is also your boss and your livelihood depends on him keeping you around. Especially when he has made it clear redundancies are on the cards….

      • Cate says:

        Not too surprising. Either they are dependent on Charles for $$$, or like Zara/Mike, they are dependent on being considered “royal” to make $$$. So everyone who comes is there because they need to stay in Charles’ good books and/or they need to remind people that they are royal as a means of making a living. It will be interesting to see if Eugenie (who seems to have made the biggest break from the family, after Harry) shows up at this or other events regularly going forwards.

      • Gabby says:

        It will soon be very clear which family members depend upon Tampon for their upkeep by who shows up at his sad little Sandringham Christmas.

    • Laura D says:

      I would argue they’re all “traditionalists” and that includes William and Kate. If the royals didn’t have “tradition” to fall back on what have they got? All the talk about taking away/giving titles helps to reinforce their inflated importance over the rest of the population. There may be a few grumbles behind the scenes but, I’ll wager everyone will turn up and their pictures will be on the front pages with headlines informing the world how H&M were snubbed!

      • Eurydice says:

        I would argue that everybody is a traditionalist. In our family, the tradition is to get up whenever we want, spend the day in our pajamas and not go to church.

      • Jais says:

        Alright Eurydice! I can do that kind of tradition 😊

    • equality says:

      Zara didn’t attend most years even when TQ was alive. If I were any of the non-“working” royals he would have to pay me big to attend and suffer all that nonsense.

      • Brassy Rebel says:

        It’s a “Firm”, not a family. In our family, Christmas is about the kids. In the Windsors’ firm, it’s about sucking up to the boss.

  3. Jensa says:

    The Sandringham Christmas always sounds incredibly dull and not at all fun. I can’t imagine why CIII wants to keep it as it was.
    I suppose the Wessexes will turn up. They’re desperate to get in with Charles now that TQ (and her money) has gone.

  4. Lolo86lf says:

    I am so happy for the Sussexes leaving England and their out-of-touch royal customs. Queen Victorian’s husband was German so I can totally understand why those customs were established back then. I’d much rather spend Christmas in a beautiful home by the sea in Montecito in the company of a loving set of parents such as Meghan and Harry.

    • ML says:

      Hi Lolo86lf, just wanted to say the weighing tradition isn’t German. It started with Edward VII (born and raised in the UK)—you won’t find it in Germany.

      I would also much prefer Montecito, Sandringham seems rather stiff, unfestive, and not much fun.

      • SomeChick says:

        the weighing thing is bonkers! it’s so creepy and weird. no way would I participate in that. ugh!

    • Sam says:

      “As a small child, Victoria was looked after and taught by her German governess, Baroness Lehzen. For the first three years of her life, she spoke only German. When she met Albert at 17 they spoke German together and even when his English gradually improved, they continued to use their native tongue when together. If you had visited Buckingham Palace at any time in the later part of the nineteenth century you would have found German being spoken.”

      … Jep, the whole British monarchy is German… Apart from that, we also celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. I personally find it nice and comfortable. ✨🎄

      • ML says:

        @Sam, I have no issue with calling Victoria a naturalized citizen as it were, who kept some of her German traditions alive and well.
        Her son is the one who started it as an adult apparently, and I’m willing to bet that he was around English speakers a lot. He’s also British. I just don’t find it fair to smack this tradition on the Germans when they don’t have anything to do with it.
        I live in the Netherlands and before Covid, we’d pop over to Germany in the Christmas season for a Christmas market each year in cities not that far from the boarder. I also spent Christmas with German friends once decades ago: this tradition doesn’t seem to exist there at all. No one has ever heard of it. They also, especially because of disordered eating, think it’s awful.

      • EBS says:

        Don’t blame the Germans for our horrid monarchy. The Queen Mother was Scottish and Philip was a prince of Greece and Denmark. They’re English now, as much as I’d like to disown them. German Christmas traditions are lovely.

    • Lara (the other) says:

      The only german tradition is opening the presents eve, everythin else, chloth changes, no kids, ect. is stuffy RF.
      Our german chrismas starts with decorating the tree the morning of christmas eve, going for a chrismas walk (or to church) while “Santa” brings the presents into the locked livingroom , have a simple dinner (no long cooking on christmas eve) and open the presents once its dark.
      The only change of dress might be after the chrismas walk.
      Christmas morning is spend in PJ in the living room until we go for Chrismas Diner with the relatives.

      • Sam says:

        Wow that sounds really nice! We’ll do it similarly, so we’ll probably celebrate a nice “German” Christmas after all!

      • Deering24 says:

        “…have a simple dinner (no long cooking on christmas eve)…”

        I’m with you guys on that. A most excellent tradition. 😉😉

  5. Eurydice says:

    Considering the transition, opening up Sandringham seems enough for now. I can imagine people asking Charles what he wants to do about Christmas and him replying, “Oh, let’s just do whatever Mother did and we can worry later about changing things.”

    • JanetDR says:

      That does make sense.
      I took over family celebrations when my mom was in her 80s because trying to schedule around everyone’s schedule became so difficult. I pretty much always did brunches so people could still go to dinner elsewhere.
      After my sister insisted that I do Thanksgiving while I was supposed to be nursing a broken ankle I decided a change was called for and the next year we traveled to Jamaica for the week and that seemed to break that tradition!

      • Eurydice says:

        I did the same and finally decided to order Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners from a local restaurant. Anyone who complained about the menu was free to cook it themselves. So now, we have a new tradition.

      • Jaded says:

        Best Christmas I ever spent was in Barbados with my then partner and his family. It was a relief to get away from my dysfunctional family and all the attendant stress to just swim, snorkel, drink great rum and not have to cook!

  6. ML says:

    My guess is that any relatives looking for handouts or trying to be in Pennington’s good graces will show up for this first Christmas at least. I also expect Paedrew to be there; as long as he keeps a low-ish profile, he’s probably even welcome.

  7. equality says:

    If he does have plans to change it probably won’t be the first Christmas after the Queen’s death. He will want to ride on the “ah, grieving family celebrates first Christmas without TQ” train for this year.

  8. Tessa says:

    As he alienates some more family members. That is perfect cover photograph of Charles for this story

  9. HeyKay says:

    It would be nice if Charles would give the staff who are underpaid, a fat bonus.
    It won’t happen of course. Cheapskate.

    I’m certain W&K+kids will do the photo op, gotta keep up appearances.

  10. Scooby Gang says:

    It would be interesting to see how they interact without the cameras around. Do the people in this family even like each other? This sounds like the most boring gathering ever – formal, stiff and dull!

  11. Sugarhere says:

    I can only imagine the frosty unchristmassy atmosphere at Sandrigham, with one despondent bro at one end of the table and a nimble-fingered minor-attracted bro at the other end.

    Thank God, the poised, agreeable heir and his sharp-witted spouse will be the life of the party. This exclusive gathering of a select few will only serve to bring to light all those missing. So sinister. The Charles trademark?

    • dee(2) says:

      “Thank God, the poised, agreeable heir and his sharp-witted spouse will be the life of the party”‘

      This cracked me up, the Bloomsbury Group these people are not.

    • Dilettante says:

      The only thing that will get all of them through this celebration🙄 will be opening up the royal wine cellar and keeping it open.

  12. Lizzie says:

    I would guess in years past the best part of the Queens Christmas was so many relatives together and lots of little kids running around. This year sounds kind of sad, the king, qc and the wails. The kids will be fun but otherwise two couples who don’t seem to really like each other.
    This has been Charles wish, a slimmed down monarchy that only focuses on the monarch and heirs. A case of be careful what you wish for.

  13. kyliegirl says:

    The UK is experiencing a huge cost of living and heating crisis, but yay, the royals are going to be able to feast and sleep in warm beds with servants catering to their every need. I’m sure the British public is relieved to know the royal family’s plans for Christmas. Regular brits are worried about putting food on the table, but the royals are worried about the many outfit changes they will need to bring. Talk about leading from the front. Ugh!

  14. Layla says:

    Can’t wait for the sussexes Christmas card next month!!!!

    • Tessa says:

      Will Kate dress up for the card in the ” in red dress” she wore for piano playing or the Gold Gown surrounding by William and the children.

  15. Ohso says:

    You know, you tend to like traditions you are used to. They are familiar and comforting to you even if outsiders view them as strange. It may be that these traditions are simply something they like. They are what they have always done and they hold memories which make them happy. I once told someone that I always go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, have so since forever. She said – “that’s awful – why go to all dressed up on a cold night? I like staying home in my PJs around the fire.” And that’s great for her – and I’m happy with what I do.

    • Athena says:

      Does Sophie have any siblings? I’ve only heard mention of her father. This might be the time for her to start her own family tradition, invite her family to her house or go spend Christmas with them. I would imagine that it would be more relaxing and enjoyable for her, Edward and the kids. They both looked unhappy at the state dinner, so some time away from Charles might be needed.

      According to the papers Andrew will be there but not at the church service.

      • Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

        I’ve read that Sophie has a brother and that the queen used to include her father in the Christmas invite after Sophie’s mother passed. Now that Charles is being a d@ck with the DoE title I can’t imagine that Ed wants to be around him very much but Chuck still funds him so he’ll probably have to play nice. What an awful life.

    • BeanieBean says:

      And then again, some people dread & resent the traditions imposed upon them as children and once they become adults, set their own traditions. They sometimes get a lot of pushback for doing so, and therein lies the problem of ‘tradition’.

      • Ohso says:

        Oh yes certainly. However we don’t know that they view their Christmas traditions in a bad light just because we don’t like them.

    • AnneL says:

      I was raised Episcopalian (basically American Anglican, though less stuffy) and that was our tradition. When I was younger I would always nod off at Midnight Mass but I loved the music, the candle light, walking outside afterwards on the crunchy snow and looking at the stars. When I was older I sang in the choir at the service. In the morning we had to sit at the top of the stairs while my father lit the fire. Once it was done, we could come down and open presents. Then we ate. I cherish those memories.

      I do think whatever tradition you know can be comforting and fun and festive. But you can also make new ones . And while I understand that the Windsors, like any other family, has their traditions and quirks that others might not enjoy, I do get why they might choose to continue some of them.

      That said, the “weigh-in” sounds deeply unfunny and stressful to me. And once the family expands and there are married-ins, grandkids, and great grandkids, you need to be flexible and understand that these traditions that you cherish aren’t for everyone. You need to be nimble, to keep what works and adjust or even trash what doesn’t. Which is not to say everyone has to love every aspect of the holiday. That’s not possible. But relax a bit, be inclusive, be self-aware and even poke a little fun at yourselves.

      And remember, it’s mostly about the children. At least the gift-giving part.

    • Therese says:

      I have very fond memories of midnight mass with my mother and sister. We later got away from that with age, etc., but still made it to mass on Christmas day. Thank you for reminding me of pleasant memories.

  16. susan says:

    Don’t expect Charles to change any of these things. He is as frozen in time as if he were encased in crystal. He’s a dowdy, fussy man who doesn’t tolerate change at ALL.

  17. aquarius64 says:

    Taking Charles tells the Middletons they will not be invited to Sandringham.

    • Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

      The Midds usually stay at Anmer. W&K and the kids do the walk to church and then go back to their home for the lunch.

  18. Chantal says:

    C-Rex is too busy revising and updating his petty grievances list to undertake any major changes to established Christmas traditions. Wee Willie is too busy gardening and planning how to upstage and sabotage the upcoming coronation of C-Rex to do anything but play along for now. Unless TQ left the other royals enough money to be self sufficient, they will continue to kiss the asses of the Terrible Trio (C-Rex, QC, & the POW) and follow orders.

  19. Becks1 says:

    It will be interesting to see who shows up this year. I imagine most will be there, but I would not be surprised if the York princesses skip. If Andrew isn’t doing the church walk, and his mother isn’t there, he may not feel the need to go so his family may spend the holiday elsewhere.

    I think the Wales will def be there for the walk at least.

    • Nic919 says:

      I think Camilla’s side of the family is going to make up for any Windsors who don’t show up. And Carole wants an invite to the big house this year. I don’t think it will happen though.

      • Tessa says:

        Camilla s children have kept low profiles as well as her grandchildren.she may attend another event with her ex husband and their children and grandchildren

    • Green girl says:

      I wonder if it will be a revolving door of family. So one branch will show up for the church walk but will leave for their own lunch at home. And someone else will come by for dinner, and a few may stay the entire weekend.

      I hope that if Harry and Meghan FaceTime the family they make it clear they are having a much better celebration. Like they and the kids are all wearing matching pajamas and have an amazing view of the ocean in the background and even mention the warm weather.

  20. Well Wisher says:

    This is about selling newspapers in the Christmas season.
    The most important custom would be the luncheon for the extended family to show solidarity, it would be interesting to see if that can be continued.

    They are not longer to be on the balcony.

    The last hurrah was in Xmas 2018, after that the foolish tabloids did in the golden goose, it perished and left due abusive behaviours.

    The state dinner, went over as a lead, all the traditions seem off, as general interest ebbs.

  21. Well Wisher says:


  22. Lauren says:

    When they say everyone I think they just mean the working royals. I would be surprised if the York princesses attend, I mean Beatrice has a young stepson to figure into plans, or Anne’s children.

  23. Emily_C says:

    I would think the British monarchs would take special care to have a very British Christmas. Children piled around, lots of food, party games. Also, they should be focusing on highlighting and giving to charities. But no, they’re not just cold, they’re cold in an aristocratic German way. (I know most Germans aren’t like this, and that the weighing thing is all the British royal family, who seem to have an eating disordered family system.) They will not bend — everyone else is supposed to bend around them, or break.

    I’m so glad Meghan, Harry, and their children are out of that hellhole. I feel sorry for the Cambridge kids.

  24. Tessa says:

    Be also has Siena her daughter and Edo shares custody of wolfie with his ex. I wonder if eugenie,jack, and August will go.

  25. QuiteContrary says:

    I’m sure Kate would love for the family weigh-in to be brought back so she can be the thinnest — if not the fairest — of them all.

  26. equality says:

    When you are monarch of other countries besides just England, why wouldn’t you vary from year to year? At least pretend the other countries matter.

  27. The Recluse says:

    Historically, the Sandringham tradition always sounded hostile to children. It’s all about the adults and their ranks in the family. It also sounds boring as hell.
    There used to be superstition attached to being there for the holidays. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, everyone had to be out of the house before the last tolling of the midnight bell or there’d be bad luck. One year someone came out just a little late after the final toll and Edward commented that there’d be bad luck for that: he died later that year.
    Make of that what you will, folks.

  28. Robin Samuels says:

    Recently there was an article stating Charles was contemplating changes to the Christmas at Sandringham event. Andrew would attend the festivities at the estate but not participate in the church walk. Is the King anxious to slim down the monarchy and change how “mommy” did things? Has he had a change of heart?
    I believe Charles is overwhelmed. He would appear more rational if he declared a mourning period to reevaluate the situation before making drastic changes. He started passing out pink slips, denying titles, reducing privileges, shaking hands, hosting elaborate events, etc., only to revert to the tradition. The article does not mention the Sussexes because we know they’re not coming. Also, does the annual address need to be said, or is that a separate article?
    The monarchy is returning to its pre-Harry and Meghan era; the glitz and glamour are gone, which could be a good thing. People need to focus on their well-being and recognize that groups for what it is – performative.

  29. Tessa says:

    I think the state dinner and the new regime decked out in jewels could have waited until next year it wasn’t so long ago that the queen passed away.

    • Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

      The recent state dinner was being planned for before the queen died so Charles just went ahead with it instead of canceling.

  30. Jess says:

    Stip blaming the fact that the Windsors are miserable and boring at Christmas to being German.

    Germans know how to party and have fun. The only difference is that they open the gifts on Christmas Eve. It’s the British misery that causes their Xmas to be like that.