The Queen’s three strict rules when the Royal Family open Christmas presents

There are three strict rules when the Royal Family sit down to open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve.

It is a tradition dating back decades and involves the exchange of ‘gag’ gifts – after all, what do you get the family that has everything?

But like any royal tradition, there are strict procedures and rules that must be followed – at the Queen’s order.

The Royal Family sit down at exactly 6pm on Christmas Eve open their presents in the red drawing room at Sandringham.

That afternoon, the family members have to try and creep down and place their gifts without being spotted.


In the room trestle tables are laid out and sections marked off with tables to show where each family member’s presents should be.

The rules are:

  • No-one should open their present until given permission by Prince Philip, who supervises the proceedings
  • Every present should be a cheap “joke gift”
  • The cheaper the better

Among memorable Christmas presents down the years are a ‘Ain’t life a bitch’ bath hat given to the Queen by Harry, a grow-your-own-girlfriend kit given to Harry by Kate (before he began dating Meghan Markle), and a white leather toilet seat given by Princess Anne to Prince Charles, although he actually liked it so much he now takes it with him on overseas tours.


Princess Diana once fell foul of the family ‘cheap and cheerful’ motto when on her first Christmas at Sandringham as a newly-wed in 1981 she bought everyone cashmere sweaters and mohair scarves to general amusement.

Princess Anne, in return, handed over a loo-roll holder.

But the next year Princess Diana cracked it when she gave Fergie a leopard-print bath mat.

The Royal Family has some other quirky Christmas traditions, including gifting over 1,500 Christmas puddings to palace staff and dressing up in black tie for an intimate family dinner.

The Queen and Prince Philip stay at Sandringham until early February, in memory of Her Majesty’s late dad George VI, who died at the estate on February 6, 1952.

Not in the least superstitious, the Queen insists on the Christmas decorations remaining up until she leaves.

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