Royal Family at Christmas: Nostalgic moments captured on camera

Festive moments the Royal Family have enjoyed over the years. (Getty Images)
Festive moments the Royal Family have enjoyed over the years. (Getty Images)

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.

21st December 1929:  Princess Elizabeth on the platform at King's Cross station, about to depart with her Royal grandparents for Christmas holidays at Sandringham.  (Photo by Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth at three years old in 1929, heading off for her Christmas holiday. (Getty Images)

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 at Christmas and New Year. Queen Elizabeth II out riding her horse in the snow, during their New Year holiday at Sandringham, Norfolk. Picture taken 2nd January 1979. (Photo by Pete Case/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth out riding her horse in the snow, during her Christmas holiday at Sandringham, Norfolk in 1979. (Getty Images)

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.

(Original Caption) Christmas at Windsor Castle is shown here with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip shown putting finishing touches to Christmas tree, in a photo made recently during the filming of the joint ITV-BBC film documentary, The Royal Family.
The Royal Family are known to put the final touches to their own Christmas tree decorations, pictured here doing so in 1968 are the Queen and Prince Philip. (Getty Images)

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.

The Queen in the Regency Room at Buckingham Palace during the recording of her 1976 Christmas Day broadcast.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
The Queen recording a Christmas address in the Regency Room, Buckingham Palace in 1976. (Getty Images)

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.

BUCKLEBURY, BERKSHIRE - DECEMBER 25:  Prince George of Cambridge attends Church on Christmas Day on December 25, 2016 in Bucklebury, Berkshire.  (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Prince George attending church with his parents in Berkshire in 2016. (Getty Images)

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.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25:  Prince Harry meets members of the public as he attends a Christmas Day church service at Sandringham on December 25, 2016 in King's Lynn, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Prince Harry meets members of the public during a walkabout at the Christmas Day church service in 2016 at Sandringham. (Getty Images)

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.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM -  In this undated image supplied by Sky News, Queen Elizabeth II sits at a desk in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace, after recording her Christmas Day broadcast to the Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace, London.  (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/ Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II sits at a desk in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace, after recording her Christmas Day message in 2017. (Getty Images)

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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the Anna Freud Centre Family School Christmas Party at Anna Freud Centre on December 15, 2015 in London, England.  The Duchess joined groups of families in Festive activities designed to help pupils reflect on the positive progress in their social relationships and communication skills.  (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Kate attends a Christmas Party at one of her patronages - the Anna Freud Centre - in 2016. (Getty Images)

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.

SANDRINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 03:  Prince William Trying On A Fireman's Helmet During A Photocall Held At The Sandringham Museum Of Royal Vehicles And Cars.during The Christmas Holidays At Sandringham. His Coat Is By Fashion Designer Catherine Walker.  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Prince William enjoying a trip to the Sandringham Museum of Royal Vehicles and Cars in 1988. (Getty Images)

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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a Christmas Party for families and children of deployed personnel from RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham serving in Cyprus, at Kensington Palace on December 4, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
William and Kate hosted a festive party in 2018 for the families of deployed servicemen and women in Kensington Palace. (Getty Images)

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.

GREAT MISSENDEN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge laughs with a young child as she helps pick Christmas trees for preschool during a visit to the charity Family Action at Peterley Manor Farm on December 04, 2019 in Great Missenden, England. This is to mark the Duchess' new patronage of Family Action. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Kate helps a child pick their Christmas tree during a festive charitable engagement for one of her patronages in Great Missenden, 2019. (Getty Images)

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.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne, Princess Royal wait to thank local volunteers and key workers for the work they are doing during the coronavirus pandemic and over Christmas in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle on December 8, 2020 in Windsor, England (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
The Senior Royals gather for a socially-distanced carol service at Windsor Castle in 2020. (Getty Images)

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.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: (L-R) Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex leave after attending Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
The last Christmas the Sussexes spent with their royal relatives at Sandringham was in 2018. (Getty Images)

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.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 08: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the 'Together at Christmas' community carol service at Westminster Abbey on December 8, 2021 in London, England. The carol service, hosted and spearheaded by The Duchess of Cambridge, pays tribute to the work of individuals and organisations across the UK who have supported their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
William shows his support for his smiling wife at her first Carol Service at Westminster Abbey in 2021. (Getty Images)

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'.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2019 in King's Lynn, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
Prince George and Princess Charlotte attend their first Christmas Day church service in Sandringham with the rest of the royals in 2019. (Getty Images)

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.

SANDRINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 23:  Princess Diana With Prince William At Sandringham After The Christening Of Her Niece  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Princess Diana With Prince William after Princess Eugenie's christening at Sandringham church in 1990. (Getty Images)

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.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 18:  Duchess Of York With Her Daughters Princess Beatrice And Princess Eugenie Attending Christmas Pantomime 'cinderella' In Aid Of 'children In Crisis' Of Which The Duchess Is Patron.  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice enjoy a festive pantomime performance in London, 1995. (Getty Images)

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.

KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25:  Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles Prince of Wales, Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess Anne, Princess Royal are seen at Christmas Day service at Sandringham Church on December 25, 2005 in King's Lynn, England.  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Prince Philip, Princess Anne, Charles, William and Harry attend church together on Christmas day in Sandringham in 2005. (Getty Images)

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.

BUCKLEBURY, BERKSHIRE - DECEMBER 25:  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and  Princess Charlotte of Cambridge attend Church on Christmas Day on December 25, 2016 in Bucklebury, Berkshire.  (Photo by Danny Martindale/WireImage)
Kate carries a one-year-old Princess Charlotte to a Christmas church service in Berkshire in 2016. (Getty Images)

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.

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