Why the royal family open their presents on Christmas Eve

The Queen traditionally spends the festive season at Sandringham

The royal family's Christmas holds many traditions, with the Queen typically joined by her loved ones at her Sandringham estate for the festive period.

While those living in the UK associate Christmas Day with present giving, the royal family actually exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. But what's the reason behind it?

Well, it's all to do with the Queen's ancestry, which is of German descent. Christmas celebrations start on 24 December in Germany when presents are exchanged. It's also usually the day when the Christmas tree gets decorated.

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Known as Heiligabend Bescherung - which translates as Christmas Eve exchanging presents - the tradition was popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Typically, the monarch arrives at her Norfolk estate by train in the days leading up to Christmas. Immediate members of the family make their way to Sandringham before the big day and are said to enjoy an afternoon tea on Christmas Eve before exchanging gifts.

Afterwards, they dress for dinner, with the men in black tie and the women in evening gowns, with the table set with the finest dinnerware.

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The royal family's last Christmas at Sandringham in 2019

Christmas Day is a big day for the royal family as they attend the service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate. While the Queen and her family celebrated separately in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's eldest children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, made their debuts on the walk to church in 2019.

After church, a traditional turkey lunch is served at Sandringham House and then the royals settle down to watch the Queen's Christmas speech.

The monarch, 95, will reportedly host her family in Norfolk for the festive period this year, in what will mark her first Christmas without her beloved late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.

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