We Take It Back, The Queen’s Christmas Dinner Sounds More Wild Than We Imagined

Queen's Christmas Dinner

Update (December 19th, 2018 at 9:44 a.m. PST): After reading about how truly lavish the Queen’s Christmas feast is — she basically has every meat and seafood you can think of — we changed our minds. Though it may not be “fancy,” it sounds unbutton-your-pants-after-dinner wild.

When we envision what Christmas dinner may look like at Buckingham Palace, we see long tables dressed with red linens and decked out with Christmas goose, caviar, and perhaps one of those scary whole-roasted pigs. But in reality, the royal family’s holiday dinner isn’t as fancy as one may picture. It is, however, built on tradition.

According to a 2016 Good Housekeeping article, the royal family doesn’t actually celebrate Christmas at Buckingham Palace. Rather, Queen Elizabeth hosts her kin at Sandringham House in Norfolk. Children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren arrive at Sandringham House around noon on Christmas Eve, and from there, follow a strict schedule for the next two days.

Darren McGrady, Queen Elizabeth’s former chef, told Good Housekeeping, the family first shares an afternoon tea on Christmas Eve. Afterward, they open presents, as is German tradition.

(Fun fact: the British royal family is actually of German descent.)

“Christmas morning, the family eats a hardy breakfast before heading off to church,” McGrady said. “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.”

Christmas lunch follows the same menu year after year. The royal lineup sounds very American Thanksgiving, TBH.

After lunch, the family reconvenes to watch the Queen’s annual Christmas speech — which may or may not be a standup comedy set. They then part ways for a bit before returning for Christmas Day afternoon tea and  fruitcake.

“Then they gather again in the evening, where a buffet dinner with 15-20 different items awaits them,” McGrady continued. “It’s always a buffet with the chefs at the table carving. They don’t do appetizers on Christmas like many do here in the U.S. Instead, appetizers and canapes are reserved for New Year’s Eve.”

McGrady told Good Housekeeping that another yearly tradition happens just before the family dives into the buffet. He said the senior chef on duty will go into the dining room and carve the rib roast, turkey, or ham. Once he’s done, the Queen will present the senior chef with a glass of whiskey and they toast.

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“That’s the only time the chef goes into the dining room and has a glass of whiskey with the royal family,” McGrady said. “It’s one of the chef’s favorite traditions.”

And like the rest of us during the holidays, the Queen also treats herself to a bit of dark chocolate during the Christmas festivities. We may not have a buffet of 15 to 20 dishes during our Christmas feed. However the royals’ holiday dinner isn’t too far off from our own — and that makes us feel very special.

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