Before the Queen travels to Sandringham for her festive break, she invites members of her extended family to Buckingham Palace for her annual Christmas lunch - and usually it's a totally private event. Guests this year included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and the Queen's granddaughter Zara and her husband Mike Tindall.
But this year former rugby player Mike, 41, has revealed some sweet details about Her Majesty's family get-together - and has explained the children of the family get their very own table to sit on - in a different room! Speaking on JOE UK's House of Rugby podcast with sports presenter Alex Payne and fellow former rugby player James Haskell, the dad-of-two said: "I didn’t drink actually, this is the other one, the family lunch there must be about 70 of us there – there are seven tables and the kiddies have their own little one in a different room. I was on Prince Charles’ table. It was lovely, really good." Mike was also asked if the royals take part in Secret Santa, to which he replied: "Not on that day – no."
Mike, Zara and their daughters Mia and Lena driving to the lunch
In fact - the royal family does engage in a kind of Secret Santa on Christmas Eve however. The royals traditionally open gifts on the 24th when the family gathers in Sandringham, the Queen's Norfolk estate. Presents are laid out in the Red Drawing Room on a white linen-covered trestle table, with cards marking exactly where the piles of gifts should be put. However, the royals tend to buy each other jokey presents or homemade treats, such as the Duchess of Cambridge, who made the Queen a jar of chutney one year.
Mike, who married Princess Anne's daughter Zara in 2011, also spoke about a moment of the first Christmas he can remember on the episode. He said: "I really wanted a Sega Megadrive and my mum and dad had convinced me that I wasn’t getting one, so I literally spent most of it crying because I thought I wasn’t getting one."
George, Charlotte and the royal kids have their own table at the Queen's lunch
In December 2018, Mike gave a rare insight into the royals' festivities while appearing on the House of Rugby podcast. Asked whether Christmas is good at the castle, Mike replied: "Yeah it is good. So Christmas Day is a little more quiet because it's actually a cold buffet because they give everyone the day off, and their big day is Christmas Eve." Mike also explained that the family all sit around to watch the Queen's speech together "with a little glass of something."
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