What the Royal Family eats and drinks at Christmas, according to experts

WHITSTABLE, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 29: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Charles, Prince of Wales eats an oyster as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall looks on during their visit to the Whitstable Oyster Festival on July 29, 2013 in Whitstable, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla sampling oysters during a visit to Kent in 2013. (Getty Images)

The Royal Family has access to some of the best chefs - and biggest kitchens - in the UK. They own multiple palaces, after all. So it stands to reason that their Christmas spread is pretty spectacular.

From their tipple of choice to their Christmas Day breakfast, here's what we know about the monarchy's festive menu.

Christmas Eve Dinner

The main act on Christmas Eve is what Ingrid Seward of Majesty magazine called "lethal" martinis, which the royals enjoy whilst donning full black tie (it's important to be comfortable, right?).

They then exchange presents in line with their German roots, and sit down for the formal meal.

LONDON- NOVEMBER 13 : (NO PUBLICATION IN UK MEDIA FOR 28 DAYS)  Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Queen Elizabeth ll, followed by  Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,  Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Prince Harry arrive to attend a private reception and concert hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace as part of Prince Charles's 60th birthday celebrations on November 13, 2008 in London, England.   (Photo by Pool/Anwar Hussein Collection/WireImage)
The Royal Family, pictured here at a gala for Charles' 60th birthday, are no strangers to black tie, and even opt to wear it on Christmas Eve. (Getty Images)

Festive royal breakfast

The royal men start as they mean to go on — according to former royal chef Darren McGrady — with a full English breakfast.

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The women, McGrady has said, tend to opt for a light, fruit-based breakfast and "maybe a boiled egg" at a push, presumably. It's a quicker option and likely provides the female royals with time to dress for their walk to St. Mary Magdalene church, where dozens of photographers await.

Prince William, Zara Phillips, Peter Phillips, Lord Frederick Windsor and Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) leave St George's Chapel in Windsor, after the Christmas service, 25th December 1987.  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Prince William, Zara Phillips, Peter Phillips, and Diana, Princess of Wales leave St George's Chapel in Windsor, after the Christmas service in 1987. (Getty Images)

Christmas lunch

McGrady worked for the royals from 1982 until 1993 and cooked over seven Christmases for the family. According to him the chefs alternate so they get their own family time.

He has said prepping for Christmas is a "military operation" that begins "weeks in advance", although he has noted that the Royal Family during his tenure at the stove were actually rather predictable.

"It was the same meal every year", he has said, which Queen Elizabeth reportedly began with her favoured gin and dubonnet cocktail.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Prince William, Prince of Wales, Princess Charlotte of Wales, Prince George of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales attend the 'Together at Christmas' Carol Service at Westminster Abbey on December 15, 2022 in London, England. Prince Louis will join the royals for the annual Christmas Day church service for the first time this year. (Getty Images) (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
William and Kate attend her 'Together at Christmas' carol service at Westminster Abbey on December 15, it has been reported that their youngest child Prince Louis will join the royals for the annual Christmas Day church service for the first time this year. (Getty Images)

"They didn't do hams or anything, just traditional turkeys. We did three turkeys for the Queen and her family in the royal dining room, one for the children's nursery and then more for the 100 or so staff, so everyone had a Christmas lunch.”

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During McGrady's tenure, the royal children were not allowed to sit at the grown-up table with the senior royals - instead they were relegated to the nursery "until they were old enough to conduct themselves properly at the dining table".

This might change now King Charles is the head of the family, but "for the Queen, there was never a case of putting a high chair at the table with a little baby squealing and throwing food. It was Victorian".

British royals Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (1930-2002), Peter Phillips, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Prince Harry and Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997) attend the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, 25th December 1990. (Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
William and Harry attend the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham in 1990 with Princess Diana, Princess Margaret and Prince Philip. (Getty Images)

McGrady has compared this to a "modern-day Downton Abbey", which might make him Mrs. Patmore.

Alongside their turkey lunch and an assortment of the usual side dishes like Brussel sprouts, roast potatoes and parsnips, they would have shrimp or lobster salad and a traditional Christmas pudding, and the Queen enjoyed a sweet white wine from Germany to wash things down.

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Afterwards they head off for a walk around their 20,000 acre estate, before gathering around the television to watch the monarch's Christmas address.

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 II out riding her horse in the snow, during her festive holiday at Sandringham, a 20,000 acre estate perfect for country pursuits she was known to enjoy. (Getty Images)

Afternoon tea

According to McGrady, the royal Christmas is incomplete without a chocolate yule log during their afternoon tea.

They also enjoy some traditional Christmas fruit cake, mince pies, sandwiches and scones. One small Christmas cake would be delivered to the youngsters in the nursery, while the adults enjoyed a bigger one.

Dinner time buffet

If you can believe it, the Windsor's enjoy another Christmas meal, this time a more informal buffet although the food on offer was "opulent" according to McGrady.

Britain's Prince Charles holds a plate in front of a buffet during a lunch break on February 19, 2014 as part of a visit at an historical site in al-Diriyah on the northwestern outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Charles is in Saudi Arabia on a private visit.  AFP PHOTO/ POOL / FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles at a buffet lunch in Saudi Arabia in 2014, which was presumably less extravagant than the royal Christmas buffet he is used to. (Getty Images)

"The buffet was when they brought out the whole spread. When I was there, Harrods would always give them a whole foie gras en croute. They'd have a whole Stilton cheese. We'd take the top off, pitchfork the top and pour port into it. It made this gorgeous spread for the crackers. It was really opulent. There was also a big York ham that was decorated".

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King Charles has reportedly banned foie gras from royal residences because it is unethical, so we know at least that aspect of the buffet will be different this year.

McGrady has also said that after the Head Chef had come out to carve the meats on offer the Queen would "then ask the steward to pour the Head Chef a drink and he'd get a whisky and they'd toast him and say thank you, and that was them saying thank you for the whole year".

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