Some information on this website may be out-of-date following the death of Queen Elizabeth.

The Royal Family at Christmas

The Queen delivers the Christmas BroadcastThe Queen delivers the Christmas BroadcastThe Queen delivers the Christmas Broadcast

A Royal Christmas

How does The Queen celebrate Christmas?

The Royal Family traditionally spends Christmas and New Year at Sandringham House. The Queen's country estate in Norfolk. During the sixties, when Her Majesty's children were small, many Christmases were celebrated at Windsor Castle, where The Royal Family spends Easter. But since 1988, when the castle was being rewired, Royal Christmases returned to Sandringham.

Decorating the Royal Christmas tree at Palace of Holyrood

Is the Christmas tree a Royal Tradition?

Queen Charlotte, consort of George III, is thought to have introduced the Christmas tree to the Royal Family. The later enthusiasm of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for the custom helped spread the popularity throughout the country. Today, The Queen and Members of her family, will usually put the final touches on their Christmas tree.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in New Zealand on Christmas Day in 1953

Do The Royal Family give each other presents?

On Christmas Eve, The Royal Family lay out their presents on trestle tables and will exchange their gifts at teatime.

Inside The Royal Palace at Christmas

Does The Royal Family go to Church on Christmas Day?

The Queen and other members of The Royal Family attend the morning service on Christmas Day at St Mary Magdalene, Sandringham, a country church visited by The Queen's Great-Great Grandmother Queen Victoria, which dates back to the 16th century.

The Royal Family attend church on Christmas Day in Sandringham

Who is on The Queen's Christmas Card list?

Each year, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh send around 750 Christmas Cards, which will usually feature a family photo. The card is signed 'Elizabeth R' and 'Philip' and features their official cyphers. Family, friends, and Members of The Royal Household will likely be the recipients of The Royal Christmas Card, but British and Commonwealth Prime Ministers, Governor-General and High Commissions may also be sent one. The Duke of Edinburgh has a further 200 cards sent out at Christmas to different regiments and organisations close to him. 

Buckingham palace in the snow

What other Royal Christmas traditions are there?

All members of The Royal Household will receive Christmas presents from The Queen, and Her Majesty will personally hand out presents to some members of The Royal Household at Buckingham Palace and at Windsor Castle.  

Continuing the tradition from her father, King George VI and her grandfather, George V – The Queen also gives Christmas puddings to her staff.  About 1500 Christmas puddings paid for by The Queen (through the Privy Purse) are distributed to staff throughout the Palaces, staff in the Court Post Office and Palace police. Each pudding is accompanied by a greeting card from The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.

As well as donating money to several charities in Windsor each Christmas, The Queen also gives Christmas trees each year to Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Giles' Cathedral and the Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh. Churches and schools in the Sandringham area will also receive a tree from Her Majesty.

History of Christmas Broadcasts

The Queen and George V Christmas Speech

The first Christmas Broadcast was delivered by George V in 1932 and since then has evolved into an important part of the Christmas Day celebrations for many in Britain and around the world.

The Christmas Broadcast is an intrinsic part of Christmas Day festivities for many people across the Commonwealth.

Each Broadcast carefully reflects current issues and concerns, and shares The Queen's reflections on what Christmas means to her and to many of her listeners. Over the years, the Christmas Broadcast has acted as a chronicle of global, national and personal events which have affected The Queen and her audience.

Christmas trees arrive at Buckingham Palace

Did you know that the Christmas Tree was introduced to Britain by Queen Charlotte, consort of King George III?

Every year, three trees are placed in the Marble Hall - and a garland is fixed along the grand staircase. 

The custom of displaying Christmas trees was introduced to Britain in the late 18th  by Queen Charlotte, consort of George III, although it was a yew tree rather than a fir that was used. The Christmas tree was popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the nineteenth century.


A History of Royal Christmases

William the Conqueror is crowned King on Christmas Day

'Did you know that William the Conqueror was crowned on Christmas Day in 1066? See a timeline of the astonishing history of Royal Christmases here.