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How royal children spend Christmas: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and more

Festive fun at the Sandringham Estate

Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
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Christmas is a special time of year for the royal family, when the Queen's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all get together to celebrate the festivities.

MORE: Carole Middleton reveals Kate and Pippa Middleton's kids are big fans of these Christmas treats

Have you ever wondered what the youngest members of the famous family get up to when their elders are getting merry around the fireplace? It's a fun time for them too, with all those presents to open and royal cousins to play with. There are of course certain traditions to follow, as the royals stick to a similar Christmas schedule each year.

WATCH: Royal family share their Christmas pudding recipe

Find out what Prince William and Duchess Kate's children and Co spend the festive season below…

The family Christmas card

Before all the yuletide joy even starts, the Cambridge children join their parents for the annual family Christmas card.

royal card

The Cambridge family's past Christmas card

In 2020, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis posed for this adorable photo taken at their Norfolk home Anmer Hall. The family were photographed by Matt Porteous in the autumn sitting on bales of hay within the property's grounds.

MORE: The Queen's Holyroodhouse home completes magical Christmas transformation

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Decorating the Christmas tree!

Members of the royal family traditionally come together at the Queen's residence of Sandringham for Christmas Eve, and Her Majesty loves to let her grandchildren help decorate the tree.

queen christmas tree

The Queen with one of her Christmas trees

Elle reports that in a past ITV documentary with Sir David Attenborough called The Queen's Green Planet, the Queen spoke to the senior castle attendant who decorated her Christmas tree.

She said: "Yes, that is always the problem, is the children love knocking those [decorations] off. Well my great-grandchildren do, anyway, they enjoy themselves. And the great thing is to make them decorate it and they're a bit more careful."

She explained: 'It always looks jolly.'

Opening presents

Did you know that the royal family follow the German tradition of opening their presents on Christmas Eve? Gifts are laid out on a trestle table in the Red Drawing Room at tea time and the whole family gathers together to open them.

The monarch's gifts are unlikely to be pricey as the royals tend to buy each other jokey things. There are plenty of presents for tiny hands to unwrap, however.

It's thought that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge allow their children to open presents from Santa at home on Christmas morning though, and we imagine it's the same for their cousins such as Zara Tindall's older children Mia and Lena.

Going to church

The Christmas Day church service at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate is an important event for the royal family.

royals church

William, Kate and children going to church on Christmas Day 

Traditionally, children only attended the service when they were a little older – Prince William was aged five and Prince Harry was aged seven when they first went – however, the Cambridges took Princess Charlotte along when she was a toddler.

Christmas lunch

Fine china and toddlers are a recipe for disaster, which is why the Queen ensures there are separate dining areas for the kids on Christmas day. According to former royal chef Darren McGrady, senior royals would dine in the main room, and the young Princes and Princesses would eat in the nursery.

"The children always ate in the nursery until they were old enough to conduct themselves properly at the dining table," said Darren.

"So 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. The children's place was in the nursery and Nanny would take care of them. It's your modern-day Downton Abbey."


He told HELLO!: "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."

Time for cake!

Of course, no Christmas lunch is complete without cake and the children even get their own bake separate from the adults.

Darren, who first cooked for the Queen and then for Princess Diana, revealed: "We'd make one big Christmas cake for the Queen and the royal family and then another smaller one for the nursery for Prince William, Prince Harry, Zara, Peter, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. It was always fruit cake – royal icing, marzipan and the traditional fruit cake."

Boxing Day

For the royals, Boxing Day is all about getting outdoors, taking in the fresh air and having fun with the family – we're sure the children must love it. Following a hearty breakfast, the clan spend time in the estate's grounds walking and horse riding together.

prince william bike

A young William on his bike 

We found this fantastic photo of a young Prince William on Boxing Day riding his BMX bike dressed in his horse riding outfit.

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