With Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle, the headlines are full of stories about Christmas with the royal family. There was once a time not so long ago that Kate Middleton conjured up the same type of buzz when she spent her first Christmas with the queen and the extended royal family.
Meghan Markle has attended the queen’s Christmas lunch and she is about to spend the Christmas holidays with the royal family, which breaks with royal tradition, according to Fox News. While Meghan is only a bride-to-be, it was when Princess Diana was a newlywed that she experienced her first gift-giving Christmas Eve with the royals only to quickly learn that her choice of gift was way off the mark of royal tradition.
It was back when Princess Diana put the royal family in a light that boosted their popularity decades ago when her first royal Christmas came with a minor mishap. Queen Elizabeth has a sense of humor, and that started a tradition of giving cheap gag gifts to one another at Christmas time.
Each year at 6 p.m. on the dot, the royal family gathers around the tree after their Earl Grey tea and scones on Christmas Eve. The gifts are all placed on a table that is covered with a white linen tablecloth and they watch as each gift is handed to the family member and opened. These gifts are meant to be cheap and funny; during one Christmas, Charles received a leather toilet seat from Princess Anne.
Harry, who was famous for his antics as a bachelor, gave the queen a shower cap that said, “Ain’t Life A B**ch” a few years back. Kate once handed Harry a gift, and when he opened it he realized his new sister-in-law had a great sense of humor. She gave him a “grow-your-own-girlfriend kit,” according to the Daily Mail.
The queen is said to also like “practical gifts,” a gift that she can actually use but one that still falls under the cheap category set for this gift-giving tradition. One year she was given a casserole dish. On another Christmas Eve, she was handed a wash apron, to which she replied, ” it’s just what I wanted.”
Princess Diana didn’t understand the novelty gift exchange the first Christmas she was part of the royal family and she made the mistake of giving Princess Ann a cashmere sweater. She probably realized she was a bit extravagant with her choice when in exchange Diana got a toilet paper holder from Anne. This was when she was a newlywed back in 1981. Princess Diana was a quick study as the following year it was apparent that she caught on by giving her sister-in-law Fergie a leopard-print bath mat.