The Surprising Christmas Tradition the Queen Insists the Royals Follow

Diane Clehane
·5 min read

For the past several decades, attendance at Sandringham to celebrate Christmas with Queen Elizabeth has been mandatory for the royals. But the longstanding tradition of the entire royal family spending Christmas at Her Majesty's estate in Norfolk, which is one of her most beloved customs, is something she won't be able to enjoy this year due to the pandemic. "Her Majesty's most precious gift every year is spending the holidays with her family," a royal insider told Best Life.

This year, however, the Queen is sheltering in place at Windsor Castle with Prince Philip. Prince William and Duchess Kate recently changed their plans to spend the holiday in Berkshire with the entire Middleton family because of government restrictions; they'll instead be with their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, at their country home, Anmer Hall. Meanwhile, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall will be sitting by the fire with their Jack Russell terriers at Highgrove. And of course, Prince Harry and Duchess Megan are spending their first Christmas at their California mansion with their son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.

The Queen has kept calm and carried on throughout the various lockdowns in Britain this year, doing what needs to be done to keep everyone safe, but there is one time-honored tradition Her Majesty will really miss this year: the exchange of gag gifts on Christmas Eve.

The royal tradition started because the Queen "thought it best many years ago to take the pressure off of finding the perfect gift and make the exchange really good fun," the insider said. Besides, "what can one possibly get for the Queen?" the source added.

Year after year, the gag gifts are laid out on trestle tables with a card bearing the recipient's name in the Red Drawing Room after 4 p.m. tea time. Philip always decides when everyone gets to open their presents.

Though the royals' gifting tradition is on hold this year, keep reading for a look at some of the goofiest gifts the royals have ever exchanged at Christmas. And for more ways the royals typically spend holiday, check out 15 Royal Christmas Traditions That You Need to Know About.

Read the original article on Best Life.

Prince Harry is the king of gag gifts.

Prince Harry Duke Of Sussex at Our Planet Global Premiere At Natural History Museum London in April 2019
Prince Harry Duke Of Sussex at Our Planet Global Premiere At Natural History Museum London in April 2019

Harry, who has always been considered the family's biggest jokester, has given his grandmother plenty of silly gifts. In their new book Finding Freedom, authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand reveal, "One year, Harry reportedly gave the Queen a shower cap emblazoned with the phrase, 'Ain't life a [expletive],' which she loved." But that's not all. "Another time he gifted his grandmother a Big Mouth Billy Bass singing toy that was said to sit proudly in Balmoral, her Scottish retreat, and provide the Queen with great laughs." And for more regular royals updates, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Kate once gave Harry a "Grow Your Own Girlfriend" kit.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, attend the inauguration of Warner Bros. Studios in April 2013
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, attend the inauguration of Warner Bros. Studios in April 2013

Kate and Harry had a very close relationship when he was single and living in Nottingham Cottage. According to a Palace source, he spent many an evening at William and Kate's apartment in Kensington Palace, reportedly talking about his travails in finding the right woman to date.

His sister-in-law offered a cheeky solution to the problem when she reportedly gave Harry a "Grow Your Own Girlfriend" kit during one of his pre-Meghan Christmases. And for more on this complex relationship, check out Meghan-Kate Feud Rumors Hid the Real Truth, Says Royal Biographer.

Meghan's first gift for the Queen left her in "hysterics."

Meghan Markle and Queen Elizabeth greet crowd
Meghan Markle and Queen Elizabeth greet crowd

One can only imagine the pressure of finding the perfect gift for your future grandmother-in-law who just happens to be Queen of England. But the Daily Star Online reported that Meghan nailed it when she gave a surprising gift to Her Majesty during her first Christmas at Sandringham, leaving the Queen in "hysterics."

She impressed the monarch with her ability to fit right in when she gave the Queen a singing toy hamster. According to the outlet, when her corgis tried to get a hold of the toy, "[the Queen] laughed and said, 'They can keep my dogs company!'" And for another update on Meghan, check out 3 Things Princess Diana and Meghan Markle Did to Change the Royals Forever.

And she gave William something that he found "hilarious."

Prince William
Prince William

Finding Freedom reveals that Meghan also wowed the royals by getting into the spirit of things at her very first Christmas with the family with her gift for William: a spoon emblazoned with the words "cereal killer." A royal source told Best Life, "He found it absolutely hilarious."

The authors of Finding Freedom wrote about the newly engaged and future duchess's selection of presents for the family that year, reporting: "Meghan's biggest challenge was finding the perfect novelty gifts to amuse her new extended family. At least one of her gifts was a huge hit—a spoon for William that had 'cereal killer' embossed on the shallow bowl end of the utensil." And for more on William and Kate's past, check out This Royal Once Encouraged Prince William to Break Up With Kate Middleton.

Princess Anne once gave Prince Charles a toilet seat.

prince charles during public media appearance outdoors
prince charles during public media appearance outdoors

According to The Sun, Prince Charles' "favorite-ever gift" is a white leather toilet seat he received from his sister, Princess Anne, as a gag gift for Christmas. He reportedly travels with it on his overseas tours! And for some sweeter memories from the future king, check out Prince Charles' Most Adorable Grandfather Moments.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.