Though the Queen traditionally spends the Christmas and New Year period at her Norfolk Sandringham Estate with other members of the Royal Family, the 95-year-old’s festive spirit isn’t solely reserved for members of her family.
In addition to greeting members of the public before heading to the Christmas church service at St. Mary Magdalene Church and addressing the Commonwealth during her Christmas Broadcast, the Queen also takes the time to spend time with staff at the palace.
It’s no secret that the royals have a wealth of traditions – particularly when it comes to Christmas – and the gifts given to the Queen’s members of staff are part of long held practice.
Dating back to the reign of King George V, the Queen gives each member of her team a Christmas pudding.
It’s alleged that Her Majesty used to buy the 1,500 Christmas puddings from Harrods and royal grocer Fortnum and Mason, though has since cut costs by purchasing the presents from Tesco.
According to reports, the Queen opts for the supermarket’s Finest Matured Christmas Pudding, which is a bargain at less than £10.
“About 1,500 Christmas puddings paid for by the Queen (through the Privy Purse) are distributed to staff throughout the Palaces, staff in the Court Post Office and Palace police,” said the Royal Family website.
“Each pudding is accompanied by a greeting card from the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.”
But in addition to the festive sweet treat, members of staff are also gifted other presents.
“The presents are usually a book token, or a small piece of China from the palace gift shop,” an aide told Fabulous Digital.
Though the worth of the book tokens are unspecified, it is believed that the amount loaded on each gift card is determined by how long a member of staff has been working.
With a staggering 620 people on the Queen’s Christmas list, the gift giving process is treated as an event in itself – one that sets the Palace back £30,000, the former palace aide reports.
Two weeks before Christmas, the Deputy Master of the Household, instructs the staff to go to a room in Buckingham Palace where the monarch presents them with their gifts, thanking them for their help.
“Here they line up to receive a wrapped gift from the Queen, and she says a few words to each of them – usually something like ‘Thank you so much for all your help during the year, followed by Happy Christmas’,” the aide added.
“An equerry will be standing beside her with a list, from which he will quietly whisper the name of each recipient as they step forward, just as they would at a palace investiture ceremony.”
And for members of staff who are not available to attend the occasion – for instance, they may be working at Balmoral – the presents are sent directly to them, along with an accompanying card.
But after the pandemic forced the Queen and Prince Philip to remain at Windsor during Christmas last year, Her Majesty was forced to scrap the traditional ceremony.
“The staff will still receive a gift from the Queen as usual but there will be no special moment with Her Majesty. It’s as much a disappointment for her as it will be for them, as it’s a hugely special time of the year,” a source told the Daily Mail.
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