Inside Queen’s Windsor Castle Christmas lunch – kids banished to separate room to paper hats & special tribute to Philip

IT'S the hottest ticket in town if you're a member of the Royal Family – an invite to the Queen's annual Christmas lunch.

With only a select few invited down to Sandringham for the festive period, the 95-year-old monarch traditionally hosts an informal bash for her extended family at Buckingham Palace – but this year it's being held at Windsor Castle.

Her Majesty is set to welcome around 50 guests on Tuesday, including Prince Charles and Camilla, as well as three of her four new great-grandchildren – August, Lucas and Siena.

Despite fears surrounding the Omicron Covid variant, the Queen is pushing ahead with the lunch, after it was cancelled in 2020.

A source told the Sun: “Currently it is going ahead but obviously it will be under review right up until the last moment.”

Closed off to the public, the notoriously private affair offers up little more than photos of arriving royals pulling up in their cars.

Here royal expert Phil Dampier offers an exclusive insight into what goes on at the largest Windsor event of the Christmas period – including whether the Queen will “make an exception” and have a drink, after recently giving up alcohol.

Turkey and all the trimmings

While many royal events are formal, the Queen’s Christmas lunch isn’t – and this is one of the few occasions when the family “don’t stand on ceremony”.

“The Queen is very family-orientated,” says Phil. “And, having lost Prince Philip this year and not being able to see a lot of people due to restrictions, this is an opportunity for people who don’t see each other much during the year to get together.



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“It’s very much a sit-down meal, and they have the normal turkey like anyone else, with all the trimmings.”

Queen's tipple

While many people love to get a bit tipsy on Christmas Day, this isn’t the case for the royals.

Royal expert Phil tells us there will be alcohol at the lunch but “it’s not a particularly boozy affair”.

“There is alcohol and some people obviously have more than others like all families,” he adds.

“But you tend to see a lot of people arriving by car and a lot of people driving so obviously they won't be drinking.”

And, while the Queen has given up drinking for health reasons, she may make an exception at Christmas and have “half a glass of wine”.

“She’s not a great fan of Champagne, as I understand it. She might have a sweet white wine or a gin and Dubonnet, her favourite drink," he adds.

A toast to Philip

One person who will be noticeably absent from the lunch is the Queen’s husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, who died earlier this year aged 99.

But the Firm will make sure he’s remembered with a toast.

“I'm sure a few words will be said about Prince Philip and they will raise a glass to him,” Phil tells us.

Kids banished to separate room

In order for the adult royals to chat freely without any hassle from the kids, they’re sent to have their dinner in a separate room.

The teenagers – Prince Edward’s children, Lady Louise Windsor, 18, and James, Viscount Severn, 13 – keep an eye on the younger ones.

“There’s that division between the kids and the grown-ups, so the grown-ups can all sit down and have a natter,” says Phil.

Mike Tindall, who is married to the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips, previously spoke about the kids eating in a different room.

The former England rugby player told JOE UK's House of Rugby podcast how he sat with his uncle-in-law Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace and described the annual event as “lovely”. 

He said: “There must be about 70 of us there – there are seven tables and then the kiddies have their own little one in a different room. 

“I was on Prince Charles' table. It was lovely, really good.”

Paper hats and 'corny jokes'

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and their children Archie and Lilibet will not be attending the Christmas lunch this year, as they're spending the season in the US.

But, just after the now-married couple got engaged in 2017, former Suits actress Meghan made a great impression on the royals when she attended the lunch, meeting many of Harry’s relatives for the first time.

She even ended up pulling a Christmas cracker with her father-in-law Prince Charles, before wearing a paper hat and reading out a corny joke.

“Everyone wanted to meet Meghan and welcome her to the family and she didn’t disappoint,” a source told the Daily Mail at the time.

“She was obviously a bit nervous at first but she soon relaxed with Prince Harry’s help as he introduced her to everyone and then she really enjoyed it.

“Harry was clearly very happy and very proud of her and everyone thought she was delightful. It was your typical Christmas lunch in spite of who was there – turkey, crackers… the lot.”

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