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Sandringham House

A Royal Christmas

The month of December in the UK means that Christmas is coming up. Well, it’s just around the corner again. Each person or family has their own traditions, but have you ever thought about the Queen Elizabeth II’s plans for the holiday?

It is well-know that this time of the year the Queen travels to her private estate in the countryside: to Sandringham House. It lies in Sandringham, Norfolk, on a land of 8000 hectares. (Can you imagine?)

Sandringham House

Sandringham House

The House is covered with red bricks and it features numberless doors and windows. Her Majesty can decide where she prefers to have her afternoon tea with biscuits – the ballroom, the saloon, the drawing room, or perhaps just the dining room. She spends each New Year there as well, of course along with the Royal Family. Last year, after her annual winter break, the Queen simply hopped on a morning train from Norfolk and travelled back to London.

Christmas trees

Let’s look a bit back in time. Has there always been a Royal Christmas tree? When was the first one put up? Well,  think back to the second half of the 18th century! Queen Charlotte was the first to decorate with a Christmas tree in Britain. A little later, in the 19th century, trees became a popular tradition thanks to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

These days, several schools and churches get a special present from the Queen every year: a Christmas tree! Her Majesty also gifts trees to St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), Westminster Abbey (London) and more.

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

But what about the Queen’s tree? The red and gold decorations are already hung up. The trees are all put up at Windsor Castle, and one of them is more than 6 meters tall! Wow. 

The Castle is a home to Her Majesty, but it is open to the public, too. So, if you fancy checking out the Winter Wonderland in Windsor, it is less than 90 minutes away from Bloomsbury International.

Royal Christmas Broadcast

Each Christmas, there is a special message from the Queen or King of the Commonwealth realm. The tradition started with King George V; he delivered the very first Christmas message back in 1932.

In the Broadcasts, you can hear what Her Majesty has to say about current affairs, and Christmas itself. The Queen’s Message was first seen on TV in 1957. Nowadays, besides watching it on TV or listening to it on the radio, you can check them out on the Internet! This tradition of Christmas Broadcasts has become very important for people in the UK.

Earlier Royal Christmases: did you know?

  • In the 12th century, Henry II wanted a winter palace in Dublin, Ireland where he could celebrate Christmases. Of course, the palace was built, and he enjoyed a lot of a special meals there, for example, peacocks, swans or wild geese. Would you taste those meals?
  • While the Royal Family today give each other presents around teatime at Christmas, it was different in the 14th century. At the time, people would normally give gifts at New Year or on Twelfth Night.
  • The first Royal Christmas Card was sent in the 1920s. The cards usually had a family photo on them, and it’s the same today. The Queen sends out around 750 Royal Christmas Cards yearly. Do you think she writes them all?

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