Christmas being a time of excess, gluttony and mass expenditure, you’d think that our Royals would really push the boat out. You know, something along the lines of a whole roasted hog, some turtle soup and an actual gold cake. This surprisingly isn’t the case.
The Royal Family, as it turns out, is pretty modest in their festive celebrations. They, like many of us, spread the festivities over a couple of days and have food typically found on any Christmas dinner table.
This surprisingly humble information comes from their former royal chef, Darren McGrady, who recently spoke to Good Housekeeping. With the exception of one or two regal anomalies, the occasion is a pretty austere affair.
The Royal Family celebrate Christmas over two days at Sandringham House, their private residence in Norfolk. McGrady would have to arrive a couple of days early to ensure everything was in order, as well as to prep for the festivities.
He says: “The Queen is not lavish, so the décor is minimal. The Royal Family has a large Christmas tree and a large silver artificial tree in the dining room, which is about 30 years old.”
Coming from German stock, they do try to weave in German traditions to their celebrations. McGrady explains: “after afternoon tea, they open gifts on Christmas Eve, as is the German tradition. Christmas morning, the family eats a hardy breakfast before heading off to church.”
McGrady continues: “after church, that’s when they have a big lunch that includes a salad with shrimp or lobster, and a roasted turkey, and all of your traditional side dishes like parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts and Christmas pudding with brandy butter for dessert.”
They have stuck with the same meal year after year, like any other family. McGrady recalls the princes and princesses being younger, and having to eat in the nursery with nannies until they were old enough to conduct themselves. It will assuredly be the same case for the new generation of young royalty.
The family do just three traditional turkeys; one for the Queen and her family, one for the children nursery and then more for the 100 of staff or so. After lunch, they all sit down watch the Queen’s Christmas speech, which surely must be an odd moment.
It’s not until the evening when the real Christmas do gets underway for the gang, where they have themselves a buffet of up to 20 different items. There has to be something extravagant, after all.
McGrady says: “it’s always a buffet with the chefs at the table carving. They don’t do appetizers on Christmas like many do in the U.S. Instead, appetizers and canapés are reserved for New Year’s Eve.”
Like everyone, the Queen wouldn’t say no to a post-dinner After Eight, which is satisfying to hear. McGrady says, “the queen is a major chocoholic, particularly dark chocolate, so she always has a chocolate treat on Christmas. She also loves mint.” It makes me believe maybe we’re not so unlike after all.