It's no secret that holiday traditions vary, depending on where you are celebrating. In the United States we have Santa Claus, and the magic of Christmas Eve. Your family might start the festivities on December 24, or wait until the following morning, but they are all a little bit similar. In the United Kingdom, the Royal Family has their own unique holiday traditions, and some that you might be quite surprised at.

MSN Lifestyle has found that Queen Elizabeth and her family might not be so different from the rest of us after all. See some of the surprising ways the Royals observe Christmas.


  • The Queen takes a regularly scheduled train trip to Sandringham Estate for the family Christmas festivities. She has access to the royal train, but prefers to pay for her ticket, and rent out the whole carriage for her party.
  • On Christmas Eve, Prince Harry and Prince William play a fierce game of soccer with workers from the Sandringham estate, while other family members cheer them on.
  • The family gathers for afternoon tea on Christmas Eve, and the children get to add the last few decorations to the tree. This will be the first year little Prince George gets to decorate.
  • The family gets together for a black tie dinner with drinks on Christmas Eve. The Queen's favorite cocktail is a Zaza - Dubonnet and Gin
  • Gifts are opened on Christmas Eve, after afternoon tea is served. The Royals are big fans of gag gifts (who knew?!)
  • If there are a lot of guests for the holidays, then some family members have to sleep in staff quarters.
  • On Christmas morning, the family rises early, and eats breakfast together before going to church at St Mary Magdalene
  • Lunch on Christmas Day consists of turkey, sausages wrapped in bacon, brussels sprouts with chestnuts, and root vegetables. The menus are written in french.
  • After lunch, the family gathers in the drawing room for movies
  • Boxing Day is celebrated on December 26 all over the United Kingdom, but most guests leave the Sandringham estate on that day, to celebrate with other family members
  • For years, Royal family members were not permitted to spend holidays with other family, but things are slowly changing. Prince William and Princess Kate now alternate the holiday with her parents, and his