Does The Royal Family Really Eat This Surprisingly Boring Holiday Meal?

Christmas is always a special time for the royal family, but the 2021 holidays should be more significant than ever. It will be the first post-pandemic gathering of the Windsor clan, as well as the first Yuletide that Queen Elizabeth will be spending without Prince Philip, her husband of seven decades. The queen's recent health problems have also been a concern for her children and grandchildren, and they no doubt will appreciate being able to celebrate with her. It's rumored that even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may be making the trip across the pond so that the queen can see her newest great-granddaughter (via Elle).

The royals' Christmas festivities are filled with tradition. Some are dignified, such as the family's attendance at Christmas morning church services and the queen's address to the country. Others are lighthearted, like the Christmas Eve exchange of gag gifts. (The queen actually came up with this idea, "to take the pressure off of finding the perfect gift," according to Best Life Online.)

Then there's the issue of holiday meals. One might expect the royals to feast on exotic fare like quail and truffles, or at least splurge on a fine cut of prime Angus ribeye. But you might be surprised to find out that their Christmas table looks much like a commoner's spread. 

Christmas is turkey day for the royals

A former palace chef, Darren McGrady, once revealed the royal family's traditional Christmas meal, via the Mirror. They sit down to "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." He added that the turkey is accompanied by either chestnut or sage-and-onion stuffing, and the family can choose between mashed and roasted potatoes. The pudding is presented in spectacular style by soaking it in brandy and then lighting it aflame. 

"They're actually boring when it comes to festivities," McGrady noted. "They don't do hams or anything, just traditional turkeys." Quite a few of them, too: Three go to the adults in the dining room, one to the young royals in the nursery, and several more are cooked for the staff.

For years, this was the royals' post-church Christmas luncheon; however, more recently, the turkey feast has been moved back to Christmas Eve dinner. Mike Tindall, husband of Princess Anne's daughter Zara, told the Mirror that the queen now lets the staff take Christmas Day off, and the family has a cold buffet after services instead. 

Rest assured that no one in the royal family goes hungry over Christmas. On the contrary, it's said that family members are expected to weigh themselves both on arrival at the Sandringham estate and on departure, a ritual established by the queen's great-grandfather, Edward VII (via Grazia).