Royal Family at Christmas: Nostalgic moments captured on camera
The first Christmas since Queen Elizabeth's death in September will mark the Royal Family beginning a new chapter with King Charles as head of the family. He will be hosting the festive celebrations at Sandringham, following in his late mother's tradition.
Due to the pandemic, the Royal Family were unable to enjoy many of their Christmas traditions for the last two years, like the annual lunch they have ahead of Christmas day with the entire extended family. Mike Tindall — the son-in-law of Princess Anne — said on his podcast that there were usually "about 70" people in attendance.
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Most families can relate to the sombre mood that hangs over this time of celebration after the loss of a loved one. For the Windsors, it will be a new chapter without Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and only time will tell what that will look like.
Yahoo UK looks back over some of the happier times the royals have enjoyed during the festive season.
The late Queen is pictured here at age three, when she was not only just a princess, but one never assumed to take the throne. As her father was the Duke of York, he was never expected to become King, so her childhood was — in royal terms — relatively relaxed, until the abdication of her uncle in 1936.
The toddler Elizabeth was about to head off to Sandringham on the train from King's Cross Station, London, to enjoy the festive period with her grandparents: King George V and Queen Mary of Teck.
The Royal Family, have, for the most part, spent most of their Christmas seasons at Sandringham in Norfolk. The private residence is not owned by the Crown, but the monarch themselves and was first purchased by Edward VII — the late Queen's great grandfather — as a country home for him and his family. Edward was the longest serving Prince of Wales, until Charles took the record from his ancestor in 2017.
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Sandringham provided the heir-in-waiting with what author Miranda Carter called the "height of British aristocratic comfort" at the time — it even had flushing toilets — and the rural 20,000 acre estate was just a much a respite for Queen Elizabeth as it was her predecessors.
She often spent her annual festive holiday riding horses and walking her dogs through the picturesque Norfolk landscape.
The Royal Family pioneered the use of Christmas trees in the UK. Through their German heritage, Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, popularised them, but they were first used by Queen Charlotte.
The British royals might have changed their name during the rising tensions of the First World War from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the more English sounding Windsor, but some family traditions die harder than a name.
The Windsor's still exchange presents on Christmas Eve, as is tradition in Germany, and while the staff do most of the heavy lifting, they are said to put the final decorative touches on their tree themselves.
What would a royal Christmas be without the annual address from the monarch? The Windsor's are said to usually all gather around together to watch the broadcast — which is actually filmed a few days ahead of schedule — after their turkey lunch and they follow the address up with a walk around the estate.
Queen Elizabeth delivered 69 of the Christmas messages, the first to be televised was in 1957, before that the address was broadcast on the radio.
While at age 3, Prince George was too young to take part in the annual walkabout in Sandringham with his royal relatives, he still attended church with the maternal side of his family: the Middletons.
William and Kate have previously opted out of the royal festive traditions so they can spend time with her parents, who live in Berkshire.
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Now they are have moved up the line of succession and become Prince and Princess of Wales, they may not be so free to spend the Christmas holidays elsewhere, but it remains to be seen.
Before he decided to step back from life as a working royal in 2020, Prince Harry was a fan favourite, which is clearly seen here as he laughs with a member of the public during the Windsor's annual Christmas walkabout.
The last Christmas Harry spent partaking in the royal traditions was in 2018. The following year he and his wife celebrated with Meghan's mother Doria, as it was their first Christmas after the birth of their first child, Archie.
The family photos displayed on the late Queen's desk were always of great interest to some of her audience, as they are often carefully chosen to mark that year's events.
Here — in a photo from the recording of her 2017 Christmas message — are photos commemorating the Queen and Prince Philip's wedding anniversary, one from her wedding day and an official portrait the couple took to celebrate seven decades.
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Keen eyed royal watchers noticed in 2019 that the Sussexes were not included, only weeks before they announced their departure from royal life.
The Royal Family also regularly take part in festive events with their charitable patronages. Here, Kate attends the Family School Christmas party at the Anna Freud Centre.
The Anna Freud Centre is a mental health charity that works with children and families, early development and mental health awareness are two of the Princess of Wales' most important causes. She has worked with the charity as their patron since 2016.
Prince William — pictured here aged six — has spent most of his Christmas holidays in the Sandringham Estate.
From childhood to parenthood, Norfolk has played host to a large chunk of William's family memories, with he and his wife owning Anmer Hall, which is close to Sandringham. While the couple have recently moved with their children to Windsor, they will still be spending the festive period in Norfolk with the King and Queen Consort.
Back in 2018, William and Kate hosted a Christmas party at Kensington Palace for the families and children of some servicemen and women who were deployed at the time to serve in Cyprus, and were normally stationed a RAF Coningsby and Marham.
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The party included festive activities for the guests like decorating snow globes and stockings.
Afterwards, the couple travelled to Cyprus to meet with people working from the RAF Akrotiri base.
In 2019, Kate travelled to Peterley Manor Farm in Great Missenden in support of a patronage given to her by the Queen, who had previously held the position for 66 years.
Family Action is a charity which provides both practical and emotional support to families experiencing poverty across the UK. While Kate was there she helped some of the children who receive support from the charity choose their Christmas tree.
While the Christmas of 2020 was not the most joyful one we've ever experienced due to rising Covid-19 hospitalisations and social distancing restrictions in place, the Royal Family still made sure to publicly celebrate key workers and volunteers for their work during the pandemic.
They gathered at a distance outside in the quad of Windsor Castle, and listened to an al fresco carol concert.
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Given the Queen's advanced age at this time and ever worsening mobility problems, it was objectively pretty impressive that she braved the cold to show her support for key workers, and was even seen mouthing along to some of the carols.
Happier times for the Windsors included their 2018 festive period, when the newly married Harry and Meghan seem to cheerfully attend the annual church service on Christmas Day and took part in the family's walkabout.
While the pressure was increasing on the Sussexes behind closed doors and Meghan was struggling with the high levels of scrutiny that comes with life in the royal spotlight, at this stage, the couple have said they had no plans yet to leave life as working royals behind.
Last year the now-Princess of Wales hosted her first carol service at Westminster Abbey, which aimed to be a tribute to all the people throughout the country who had gone to great pains to support their communities during the pandemic.
The service was broadcast on Christmas Eve and even included a piano performance from Kate, who accompanied singer Tom Walker on his song 'For Those Who Can't Be Here'.
Prince George and his little sister Princess Charlotte made their first official appearance at the Sandringham walkabout in 2019, when they were aged six and four respectively.
Although they seemed a little overwhelmed by the crowd of well-wishers at first, Charlotte was given a pink inflatable flamingo toy by a member of the public and stopped to give them a quick hug of thanks.
Diana's looks were known to be iconic, but this Moschino houndstooth outfit was one that went down in the sartorial history books for the festive season.
Pictured here with an eight-year-old Prince William, the pair had attended Princess Eugenie's christening, which took place in Sandringham, just two days before Christmas. The two-tone red and black houndstooth pieces, paired with black and red accessories created a dramatic impression.
A staple of the festive season is, of course, a trip to a pantomime. Pictured here are Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice at a production of Cinderella in 1995.
The York sisters attended with their mother, Sarah Ferguson who was patron of Children in Crisis, the charity for which the panto was raising money. With plastic tiaras and clutching their Christmas goodie bags, Beatrice, then aged seven, and Eugenie, aged 5, also donned matching festive outfits for the occasion.
Pictured here is the late Prince Philip, accompanied by Princess Anne, leading the royal pack to the annual Christmas Day church service that the Windsor's attend on the Sandringham Estate.
St. Mary Magdalene church has been attended by the Royal Family all the way back to Queen Victoria.
Here, a one-year-old Princess Charlotte is carried to a church service in Berkshire by her mother, Kate, while spending Christmas with the Middletons.
Known for her attention to detail, Kate ensured here that her burgundy coat and accessories match her baby daughter's tights and hair bow.