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A very Windsor Christmas

Nearly 25 years after her grandfather George V became the first to deliver a Christmas broadcast, Queen Elizabeth II would carry on the tradition and create history in her own way. Christmas 1957, The Queen’s Christmas broadcast was televised for the first time. During her message, she spoke on the tradition her late father, George VI passed on to her. She also addressed the nation from the same chair and desk her father and grandfather used in their broadcasts. While she was The Queen for five years already, this was the first time the message was televised during her reign.

Televising the speeches would become fairly popular as it allowed the public a chance to see a more personal side of the monarch. Each year, viewers could see a glimpse of palace decorations and spot different family photos in the background. While the broadcasts were usually filmed at Buckingham Palace, they were also recorded at Windsor Castle and Sandringham. In 2003, the message was notably filmed at the Comberemere Barracks in Windsor. This marked the first time the address had been shot entirely on location. Footage from royal events throughout the year is typically embedded into the message.

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Another royal tradition continued as did the broadcasts, The Not Forgotten Christmas Party. The tradition dates back to 1921 when the tri-service charity, The Not Forgotten Association began the annual Not Forgotten garden parties and Christmas parties at Buckingham Palace. King George V and Queen Mary would be in attendance at the first event. Princess Mary became the first royal patron of the association and held the role until her death in 1965. The Duchess of Kent took over before the role was given to The Princess Royal in 2000. Today, the parties are typically held at St James’s Palace. The association works to provide entertainment and recreation for the serving wounded, injured, sick, or ex-servicemen and women with disabilities.

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Most Christmases, the Royal Family attends a Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene, Sandringham. The royal visits to the country church date back to Queen Victoria in the 16th century. The family then typically spends the holidays at the private residence. Later in the evening, Christmas dinner is served during a black-tie affair which has women wearing gowns and tiaras. The main dish is typically beef, chicken, or goose while turkey is saved for Christmas Day lunch.

Just like any other family, the royals exchange gifts. This is done at teatime on Christmas Eve when gag gifts are given such as shower caps or toilet seats. It’s also believed that the family engages in popping open Christmas crackers and playing charades.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.