For decades, the royal family has followed strict rules for opening presents at Christmastime, as laid out by the queen. However, these rules weren’t created to maintain a sophisticated order, as one might think. On the contrary, Queen Elizabeth’s very simple rules were designed to make holiday gift-giving a bit more “cheap and cheerful,” according to the International Business Times.
First, no member of the royal family may open their gifts until given permission by Prince Philip, who supervises the proceedings. The second rule is that the gifts should only be cheap “joke gifts.” The cheaper, the better, the queen’s third and final rule states.
Traditionally, the royal family opens their gifts together on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas day. This tradition is related to their German heritage, where the holiday is most often celebrated as two Christmas days, not Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In Germany, gifts are opened on the first day, while Saint Stephen is commemorated on the second day.
“The royals are of German descent so they weave in German traditions to their celebrations. After afternoon tea, they open gifts on Christmas Eve, as is the German tradition,” former royal chef Darren McGrady said, which Express reported.
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Today The Queen held audiences at Buckingham Palace. Her Excellency Ms. Enna Park was received by The Queen and presented the Letters of Recall of her predecessor and her own Letters of Credence as Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Court of St. James’s. Mr. Won-soo Kim was also received by Her Majesty. His Excellency the, Mr. Umit Yalcin was received by The Queen and presented the Letters of Recall of his predecessor and his own Letters of Credence as Ambassador of Turkey to the Court of St. James’s. Mrs. Gul Yalcin was also received by Her Majesty.
At 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the royal family will gather in the red drawing room at Sandringham House, Queen Elizabeth’s home, to exchange gifts. In the afternoon leading up to the event, each member of the royal family must try to sneak into the room to place their gifts without being spotted.
Many of the gifts exchanged in the past have been hilariously out of character for the royal family. For example, Kate Middleton gave Prince Harry a “grow your own girlfriend” kit before he met Meghan Markle. Another year, Harry gifted the queen an “Ain’t Life A B*tch” shower cap.
Princess Anne once gave a white leather toilet seat to Prince Charles as a joke, but he loved it so much that he travels with it on overseas tours, according to Mirror UK.
In Princess Diana’s first year at Sandringham, she failed to provide gag gifts to the family. Instead, everyone received cashmere sweaters and mohair scarves. The following year, Diana made up for her mistake by gifting a leopard-print bath mat to Sarah Ferguson.
Each member of the royal household receives gifts from the queen, including staff members, who receive Christmas pudding. This is a tradition introduced by the queen’s father, King George VI, and her grandfather, George V. The queen pays for approximately 1,500 puddings each year through the Privy Purse.