For the first time in years, the royal family won’t be ringing in Christmas together at Queen Elizabeth’s Sandringham estate. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the monarch will remain at Windsor Castle alongside husband Prince Philip, while the rest of the royal family will be celebrating separately due to new strict lockdown guidelines.
While they won’t be together, they’ll still likely be taking part in beloved family traditions within their own immediate families, like gift-giving at tea on Christmas Eve —an old German practice that Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, introduced in the mid-19th century.
And when it comes to their early Christmas gifts, the quirkier the better! The royal family uses this time to gift each other inexpensive gag gifts—like the leather toilet seat Princess Anne gave her brother Prince Charles one year and the “Grow Your Own Girlfriend” kit Kate Middleton once gave brother-in-law Prince Harry.
For her first Christmas with the royal family after her engagement to Harry in 2017, Meghan Markle gave her future brother-in-law, Prince William, a gag gift that scored major points with the family.
In Finding Freedom, royal journalists Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand write that gift-giving has always been "an audition like no other, and [Meghan] wanted to impress her future royal relatives.”
“To that end, Meghan's biggest challenge was finding the perfect novelty gifts to amuse her new extended family,” according to the book’s authors. “At least one of her gifts was a huge hit—a spoon for William that had 'cereal killer' embossed on the shallow bowl end of the utensil.”
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Meghan, Harry and their son Archie are getting ready to celebrate their first Christmas in their new home in Montecito, California. The family is "excited to decorate for Christmas," a source told PEOPLE.
Meanwhile, William and Kate are spending the holiday at their country home of Anmer Hall in Norfolk as much of England is under strict lockdown measures to do an infectious new coronavirus strain in the U.K.
The Sussex and Cambridge families have been sending each other Christmas presents ahead of the holiday, PEOPLE has learned.
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Presents have been sent back and forth between the entire royal family as well as they experience their first socially-distanced Christmas.
PEOPLE's new special edition, Christmas with The Queen: A Royal Family Holiday Album is available now on Amazon and wherever magazines are sold.
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