How do the Royal family celebrate Christmas – and will William, Kate, Harry and Meghan be in attendance?

Saffron Alexander
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How do the Royal family celebrate Christmas – and will William, Kate, Harry and Meghan be in attendance?

For many, Christmas is the perfect opportunity to spend time with loved ones and catch up with all they might have missed throughout the year. The Royal family are no exception to this – but as the head of state, the movements of Queen and her associated clan naturally differ to the rest of us. 

Here's what's in store for them this Crimbo.

Sandringham House

Sandringham House

The Royal family traditionally spend Christmas at Sandringham House in Norfolk, as opposed to Buckingham Palace.  The Queen and Prince Philip usually make the journey to Sandringham via public transport – sometimes startling oblivious passengers with their presence  while the rest of the family will arrive at some point on Christmas Eve.

Once everyone has arrived, the royal guests enjoy a traditional Christmas that includes putting the finishing touches on the Christmas tree and the giving of cheap and humorous gifts.

Dinner at Sandringham on Christmas Eve is a relatively formal affair, with the men wearing black tie suits and the woman wearing gowns, expensive jewellery, and tiaras. 

Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending with other members of the royal family the traditional Christmas Day Church Service

On Christmas morning Prince Philip will lead the Royal family on a walk to St Mary Magdalene Church for the traditional Christmas Day service. The Queen is driven. 

The service typically last for around 45 minutes, with the Queen having received Communion privately in the morning already.

Where will Duke and Duchess of Cambridge be spending Christmas?

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their children, Princess Charlotte and Prince George

For the second time since they married in 2011, the Prince William and Kate Middleton, along with their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will be spending Christmas with the Middleton family at their home in Berkshire.

It will mark their first Christmas away from Sandringham House since Prince George and Prince Charlotte were born.

A Royal aide reportedly told the Mail: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children will have a private Christmas Day with the Middleton family.

"Kate is very close to her family and has always made clear they will play a significant role both in her life and those of her children."

Siblings Pippa and James Middleton are also expected to celebrate Christmas with their parents.

Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spend Christmas together?

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry 

Although they recently spent time together picking out a Christmas tree, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be spending their first Christmas as a couple apart.

While Prince Harry will be spending Christmas with the Royal family, strict convention states that only married couples are invited to Sandringham for Christmas. Girlfriends and boyfriends are not allowed.

As such, Miss Markle is expected to fly to California this weekend, to spend Christmas in her native Los Angeles with her mother. She is expected to begin filming the next series of the legal drama Suits in the new year.

The Queen's Christmas Message

Queen Elizabeth II sits at a desk in the 18th Century Room at Buckingham Palace, London, after recording her Christmas Day broadcast to the Commonwealth in 2015

The Queen's Christmas Message, broadcast to the 52 member states in the Commonwealth of Nations, is a Christmas Day staple. Originally called the King's Christmas Message when the tradition began in 1932 with a radio broadcast by King George V, the message has been read by Queen Elizabeth II since 1952.

The Queen typically uses the speech as a chance to reflect on the year and the major events that have occurred throughout it. She also makes a comment on her own personal milestones of the year and expresses her opinion on Christmas in general.

The Queen's Christmas Message is embargoed until 3pm on Christmas Day. It is then broadcast on BBC One, ITV, Sky 1, and Sky News from 3pm until 3.10pm. You can also listen to it on BBC Radio 4.

In 2015, the Queen's message was the most watched Christmas Day programme, pulling in 7.5 million viewers in total, beating Downton Abbey's 6.9 million.