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Norfolk Noël: Christmas at Sandringham

<![CDATA[Sandringham – a massive, majestic estate – is the premier destination for the Royal Family during the Christmas holidays. Stemming from decades of tradition, from the childhood Christmases of Her Majesty, Sandringham has played host to the Royal Family's festivities for many years. With marvelous feasts, cozy afternoon walks around the grounds, and joke gifts galore, the Christmas traditions that Sandringham holds for the Royal Family are truly fascinating.
To officially begin the Christmas season for the Royal Family, the unique tradition of timed arrivals is observed. Yes, every single member of the Royal Family, with an expected 26 to 30 members set to attend, will arrive at Sandringham at a delegated time – neither early nor late! And once all have arrived and settled in, at about 4 o'clock, all are summoned to tea.
Gathered together in the White Drawing Room of Sandringham, sipping warm tea and delightfully chatting, a few of the young members of the  family are charged with putting the final touches on the tree – one of the many trees of Sandringham.  Her Majesty The Queen adores Christmas trees and has one in each room. Sandringham trees are also very special as they are chemically treated and cared for so they may last through the season until Queen Elizabeth departs, in February.
Following tea, gifts are presented and opened – a timeless Christmas Eve tradition for the Royal Family. Now, contrary to what many may think, the Royal Family do not present one another with extravagant luxuries. Rather they enjoy presenting joke and gag gifts to one another. In previous years, Prince Philip was gifted with a whoopee cushion and Queen Elizabeth often receives dog leads.
Once the entertaining gifts haven been dispersed and laughs have been had, its drinks and cocktails followed by a beautiful feast for dinner – usually a meal of Lamb or Game which has been taken locally. Thus concludes Christmas Eve.
Christmas morning at Sandringham begins bright and early with a full, traditional English breakfast. Once breakfast is over, the Royal Family will all venture together to St. Mary Magdalene Church, located on Sandringham grounds. With service over by lunch, the Royal Family returns to a marvelous lunch of Turkey complete with each and every traditional trimming and side-dish.

Lunch is over at 3 o’clock sharp so that everyone can gather around and watch The Queen’s speech. Though, Her Majesty is not present with them – she prefers to view the program in private. At the conclusion of Her Majesty’s speech, the Royal Family will be spending Christmas Day much like everyone else: enjoying one another’s company. Queen Elizabeth is said to prefer a round of family board games, while other members of the family may enjoy brisk walks round the grounds of Sandringham with the dogs or even indulge in a bit of television. The remainder of Christmas Day is a time of total relaxation, peace, and family time.
The following morning, as the sun rises upon another beautifully crisp day at Sandringham, the usual Boxing Day festivities commence – a pheasant hunt hosted by Prince Philip, right on the grounds of Sandringham with the winning team bagging the most birds. Boxing Day is quite special for the Royal Family as it is the last day that all of them will be together, with some members of the Royal Family departing from Sandringham after a final lunch.
With the deep-rooted traditions surrounding Sandringham and the Royal Family, it is no wonder that Her Majesty The Queen prefers to spend the remainder of the year and well into the new year there. And as it’s halls echo with talk and laughter, Sandringham will always be a place of great value and sentiment to both the Royal Family as well as Brits everywhere.
Featured Photo Credit: ell brown via photopin cc]]>