Where does your mind go when you imagine what the royal family members gift each other for Christmas? Perhaps you’re thinking diamond-dripping tiaras for the grown folks, and a stable of mini ponies for the kiddies. Really, though — what do you get for your fam when the whole lot has access to literally every imaginable material trapping?
Turns out, you head squarely in the other direction — or, at least that’s the tack the royal family takes for their private Christmas gatherings. And it’s a very longstanding royal tradition. Yes, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry, and now his bride Meghan Markle — and generations before them — adhere to the tradition of giving each other not top-end finery, but gag gifts for Christmas every year.
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“The crazier and the more quirky” the better, according to Princess Diana’s former chef Darren McGrady, as quoted in People. The tradition of cheap and silly is simply “what they love,” he said. So goes common speculation, the family shares these jokey and bargain-priced gifts with one another at 6 p.m. in Sandringham’s red drawing-room every Christmas Eve. According to the ongoing family tradition, each person must sneakily place their presents on a table designated for each family member. Then, when Prince Philip gives the go-ahead, everyone gets to unwrapping.
Fun — if perhaps surprising — right? Read on to see some of the royal family’s best joke gifts for Christmas.
A Leather Toilet Seat
The Mirror reports that Princess Anne once gave Prince Charles a leather toilet seat. A gag gift, sure — but it sounds plenty comfy. And apparently, he thought so, too: The story goes that he liked it so much, he began traveling with it on trips abroad.
A Toilet Paper Roll Holder
When Princess Diana was a newlywed in 1981, she didn’t quite yet get the seriousness of the silly tradition — so she gave Princess Anne a cashmere sweater as a gift. (Oops.) In turn, Anne gifted her a toilet paper roll holder.
A Leopard-Print Bath Mat
Princess Diana learned her lesson! According to the Mirror, after that cashmere misstep, she corrected course and gave Fergie a leopard-print bath mat. It might fit into the category of cheap, jokey gifts — but we’re guessing if Diana was involved, it was actually the most stylish bath mat ever.
A Singing Stuffed Hamster
Evidently, Meghan caught on faster than Diana. In her first Christmas with the royal family, Markle gave the queen a singing stuffed hamster. According to People, the queen cracked up laughing when the corgis snatched it out of her hands — apparently happy for the furry company.
A Light-Up Pepper Mill
Also according to McGrady as cited in People, Prince Philip once scooped up a pepper mill with a light on it at one such gift exchange. Silly… but practical, too, we suppose?
A Girlfriend Gag
Before Harry met his princess, he was well known as a bachelor on the party circuit. Ribbing him for that rep, his sister-in-law Kate gave him a “Grow Your Own Girlfriend” kit as a gag gift. Hey, all’s well that ends well.
A Profane Hat… for the Queen
We’re going to go ahead and call it: Prince Harry wins it all here. It’s been said he gifted Queen Elizabeth with a bathing cap emblazoned “Ain’t Life A Bitch.” And we’re guessing if paps ever manage to snap a pic of her wearing it, they could sell it for enough to retire to their very own castles!
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