The Queen and Prince Philip have carried on the Christmas tradition of personally gifting each and every member of the royal staff, which is a tradition that was started by the Queen’s grandfather King George V. Her grandfather passed the tradition along to her father King George VI and for the past several decades it’s been a tradition Queen Elizabeth has honored. Considering there are approximately 1,500 staff members that work in various capacities when it comes to serving the Royal Family, that is a lot of gift giving.
Much like everything else in royal life, there is a protocol the Queen adheres to when it comes to Christmas and the gift-giving part of the holiday is not exempt from a royal regiment. As the Daily Mail reports, along with the Christmas bonuses for the staff, the Queen and Prince Philip gift all 1,500 royal staff members with a Christmas pudding and there is a protocol followed for doing this as well. The Daily Mail reports:
“The handing out of Christmas vouchers to staff is regiment, with the most senior household staff going first, followed by clerks and then domestic workers and gardeners.”
According to an archived article from the Huffington Post, Christmas pudding is the pudding you’ve heard about in the Christmas carol “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” The lyrics include — “now bring us some figgy pudding,” which is referring to the same Christmas pudding the Queen and Prince Philip make a gift of every year.
It is far from what Americans think of when hearing the word “pudding,” it is not made of rich chocolate or delectable vanilla, it is actually an aged pudding, sometimes called “figgy pudding” or “plum pudding.” According to the Huffington Post, the ingredients of Christmas pudding are:
“Dried fruits, among them raisins, figs, prunes and glacé fruits, as well as citrus zest and nuts. Eggs, breadcrumbs, and suet (beef or mutton fat from around the kidney) it helps hold the mixture of fruits and nuts together. It is then pressed into a bowl, covered with parchment, and steamed in a pot on the stove for hours and hours until cooked.”
This pudding is made weeks and even months in advance of the Christmas holiday as part of the process is aging. The brand of pudding that the Queen and Prince Philip will give out as gifts this year has a label boasting that it has been “12 months matured.” The average folks usually make their Christmas pudding “at least a month in advance” of Christmas. The tradition of the Christmas pudding for the British is often compared to the fruitcake, which is a tradition on the other side of the pond.
According to the Daily Mail, the Queen’s gifts of Christmas pudding were once purchased from Harrods or Fortnum & Mason, “which holds a warrant as royal grocers.” That was the tradition of purchasing the Christmas pudding in the past but today the Queen has “has since swapped to a cheaper provider.” The gifts of Christmas pudding that are handed out by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip now come from Tesco, which is a bit easier on the royal purse.