For more than a century, the royal family has gathered for a series of events to celebrate the Christmas season, usually beginning with a palace luncheon where the extended Windsor clan breaks bread. For the first time since 2019, more than 50 Windsors attended the first pre-Christmas luncheon hosted by King Charles III on Tuesday, but with a few changes from the tradition during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. For the last few decades, the luncheon took place at Buckingham Palace on the Wednesday before Christmas, but this year Charles relocated it to Windsor Castle.
The event in Windsor was the biggest family gathering since the late queen’s funeral in September. According to Hello, the family did eat their traditional turkey-and-trimmings lunch. In past years, the turkey was bred at Sandringham, and the family has played with Christmas crackers and donned party hats, seated at round tables of 10. In November, former royal chef Darren McGrady told MyLondon that the family usually eats turkey with straightforward side dishes at Christmas events. “The turkey is served with mashed and roast potatoes, chestnut or sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce and bread sauce,” he said. “Vegetables include brussels sprouts, carrots and roast parsnips.”
The king and Queen Consort Camilla, who are still living in their London residence Clarence House, were the first to arrive. Charles’ brother Prince Edward arrived with his wife, Sophie Countess of Wessex, and their daughter Lady Louise Windsor, who recently finished her first semester at William and Kate’s alma mater St. Andrews in Scotland. Princess Anne and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence also attended, along with Zara and Mike Tindall, and their children, Mia, Lena and Lucas, who were photographed smiling in the backseat of their Range Rover as they left the castle. The Telegraph reported that Prince Andrew was also set to attend, but he was not photographed arriving.
A handful of the late queen’s cousins also made the trip to Windsor. The Duke of Kent, arrived with his granddaughter, Lady Marina Windsor, his daughter, Lady Helen Taylor, and her family. Prince and Princess Michael of Kent also attended.
Usually Prince William and Kate Middleton attend along with their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, but this year they were absent, having reportedly traveled to Anmer Hall, their home on the Sandringham Estate, when the term ended at Lambrook, the school they attend in Berkshire.
On Monday, the palace announced that the king will attend a church service at St. Mary Church in Sandringham, but they have not announced when or how he will arrive for the holiday. The queen traditionally remained at the Norfolk estate until February 6, the anniversary of her father’s death, but the Telegraph has pointed out that the king already has a full schedule of engagements during January and will likely return to London sooner.
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