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Why Prince William and Prince Harry were never allowed to eat with their parents on Christmas Day

The late Queen Elizabeth II had very strict traditions

Princess Diana and their sons, William and Harry, leave the church of St. Mary Magdalene near Sandrigham House on Christmas Day
Ainhoa Barcelona
Ainhoa BarcelonaContent Managing Editor
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Christmas Day is usually a time when families gather around the dining table to tuck into turkey and all the trimmings. 

But when Prince William and Prince Harry were young children, they were banished to the nursery to eat with their cousins, instead of sitting at the grown-ups' table with their parents and other adults. Any mum or dad will know that fine china and toddlers are a recipe for disaster!

According to former royal chef Darren McGrady, who worked for both the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Her Late Majesty had a "Victorian" approach to the royal family's Christmas celebrations. 

Prince William, Zara Phillips, Lord Frederick Windsor and Peter Phillips attend Christmas Day church service in 1987
A young Prince William used to eat in the nursery with his cousins on Christmas Day

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

While it's not known whether King Charles and Queen Camilla still implement this royal tradition of eating in different rooms, what is known is that the family like to have a traditional menu. They usually feast on "turkey, different stuffings – sage and onion, chestnut – and the traditional sides like roast potatoes, mash potatoes, parsnips and Brussels sprouts," added Darren, and then Christmas pudding for dessert. 

"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."

Charles with the Wales children on Christmas Day 2022© Getty
Camilla and Charles are hosting at Sandringham again this year

This year, King Charles is expected to extend the Christmas Day luncheon invite to his wife Camilla's side of the family too, including her children and grandchildren – a first in royal history. 

According to ITV's royal editor Chris Ship, Christmas lunch will now reportedly be served in the larger ballroom of Sandringham House rather than the dining room, to accommodate the extra guests.

Camilla is mother to Tom Parker Bowles and Laura Lopes from her previous marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles.

Tom shares daughter Lola and son Freddy with his former wife Sara Buys, while Laura and her husband Harry are parents to Eliza and twin sons, Gus and Louis.

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