King to host first Christmas as monarch at Sandringham

Charles will travel to the Norfolk estate where the royal family will spend their first Christmas together since the death of the late Queen.

A member of the Royal Collection Trust staff puts the finishing touches to a Christmas tree in the Crimson Drawing Room, during a photo call for Christmas decorations at Windsor Castle
A member of the Royal Collection Trust staff puts the finishing touches to a Christmas tree in the Crimson Drawing Room, during a photo call for Christmas decorations at Windsor Castle

The King is to spend Christmas Day at Sandringham this year, marking a return to the traditional royal family Christmas on the Norfolk estate.

The monarch and the Queen Consort are expected to be joined by their wider family as they mark their poignant first Christmas since the death of the late Queen and Charles’s accession to the throne.

South African President State Visit to the UK
The King and the Queen Consort during the State Banquet this week (Chris Jackson/PA)

Buckingham Palace confirmed the King had this year decided to travel to Sandringham House, where Queen Elizabeth II hosted her family over the festive period throughout the decades.

It follows a two-year break, when, due to the Covid pandemic, the late Queen spent Christmas at Windsor Castle two years in a row – the first with the Duke of Edinburgh, separated from her wider family in lockdown.

Royal Christmases usually feature a morning trip to St Mary Magdalene Church, the greeting of well-wishers, and a family lunch with turkey and all the trimmings.

Royals attends Christmas Day Church service
The King with the Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince George and Princess Charlotte arriving for the Christmas Day morning service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham in 2019 (Joe Giddens/PA)

The Prince and Princess of Wales and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis are often among the gathered guests.

Charles is also preparing to pre-record his historic, first ever Christmas Broadcast as monarch, when he will no doubt reflect on the loss of his mother and her legacy.

Traditionally, members of the royal family sit down to watch the televised address when it airs after lunch, usually at 3pm on December 25.

Queen’s Christmas broadcast
The Queen recording her annual Christmas broadcast in 2021 (Victoria Jones/PA)

Meanwhile, Windsor Castle has been transformed ready for Christmas, with a 20ft tree in St George’s Hall decorated in 3,000 lights and hundreds of regal purple ribbons.

It took a team of four staff from the Royal Collection Trust two days to dress the Berkshire royal residence’s festive trees.

Tourists visiting the State Apartments will see shimmering trees, twinkling lights and festive garlands.

Christmas at Windsor Castle
Members of the Royal Collection Trust put the finishing touches to a 20-foot-high Nordmann Fir Christmas tree in St George’s Hall, Windsor Castle (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A handmade angel sits on top of St George’s Hall’s towering Nordmann fir, which was sourced from nearby Windsor Great Park.

The Christmas colour scheme at the castle was chosen by Royal Collection Trust curators together with the exhibitions team, and this year, the central tree features purple velvet and satin ribbons and scores of jewel-shaped ornaments.

The garlands on the Grand Staircase include red velvet swags and hand-gilded leaves and fruits inspired by the Grinling Gibbons carvings that can be seen around the apartments.

Christmas at Windsor Castle
The Grand Staircase at Windsor (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Further trees are also in the Crimson Drawing Room, the Inner Hall, the Queen’s Gallery, the Undercroft Cafe and the Admissions Centre.

For the first time in more than a decade, a festive table display adorns the grand Waterloo Chamber.

Another team of three people put this in place.

Christmas at Windsor Castle
The decorations on a table in the Waterloo Chamber are adjusted (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Sandringham House has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs for more than 160 years, and now belongs to the King.

The late Queen celebrated the eve of her Platinum Jubilee there just seven months before her death.

It was bought in 1862 by the then Prince of Wales, who later became Edward VII, as a private country retreat.

Queen Elizabeth II death
Sandringham House (Chris Radburn/PA)

The house was rebuilt in 1870 to ensure it was big enough for his growing family.

George V, the Queen’s grandfather, described the house as “Dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world”.

George VI, the Queen’s father, wrote: “I have always been so happy here and I love the place”.

Queen Elizabeth II death
The Prince and Princess of Wales look at flowers left in memory of the Queen at Sandringham (Toby Melville/PA)

In the aftermath of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, the Prince and Princess of Wales viewed floral tributes left by members of the public at the gates of Sandringham.

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