How Kate Middleton and Prince William Make Christmas Special For Their Kids
Remember when all Prince George wanted for Christmas was a toy police car? Man, weren’t those simpler times.
Because if a recent Closer report is to be believed, the royal offspring have really upped their Santa game. A source told the outlet (via the Daily Mail) that Princess Charlotte is “obsessed with horses,” as is practically her royal birthright, the women in her family tending to be excellent equestrians. As such, continued the source, “She’s asked for a pony.”
Prince William is said to think his 4-year-old daughter is just a touch young to be trotting along in great-grandma Queen Elizabeth II‘s footsteps, and might need to wait until next year. Instead both she and George (who seems likely to get the tennis racket he requested) will “be receiving children’s cookery sets because they love making a mess in the kitchen!”
Mom and Dad, meanwhile, are whipping up some yuletide cheer. Because even without the kindergartner’s wish list fully realized, her holiday season will be heavy on the merry.
In their ongoing effort to give their pint-sized heirs to the British throne as normal a childhood as could be reasonably expected, William and wife Kate Middleton lean in hard to the classic trappings of the season. “It’s important to them that their kids share childhood traditions like their school pals,” an insider told Us Weekly last year, adding that with it being Prince Louis‘ first Christmas, they were “going all-out to make it extra special.”
Though, that’s the general modus operandi in the Cambridge household, where the Christmas trees are plentiful (the one set up outside their four-story Kensington Palace apartment alone is 30 feet of grandeur), the spirit is excessively jolly and the traditions are firmly entrenched. Like, some several decades of royal protocol entrenched.
Such will be the case this year when the family spends the holiday at Gan-Gan’s for the third year running.
As one might expect, the monarch runs a fairly tight ship during her three days of festivities at Sandringham, her quaint, 20,000-acre country home in Norfolk. The affair kicks off on Christmas Eve with presents in the red drawing room (while adults exchange gag gifts, more expensive items thought to be gauche for the wealthy family, children receive actual toys) followed by supper.
Christmas morning service is a must for all but the littlest of royals (William was 5 when he first attended while Prince Harry didn’t turn up at St. Mary Magdalene until he was 7) and while the Queen and Prince Philip are chauffeured over, the younger royals are expected to make a show of it, the walk in their church finery drawing thousands of curious spectators. Then there’s the family lunch with all the trimmings before settling in for the Queen’s annual 3 p.m. address, pre-taped in Buckingham Palace’s White Drawing Room.
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“It’s quite a strange day because if you’re from up north, normally I’d spend my whole day in my boxer shorts,” Mike Tindall, husband of the queen’s granddaughter, Zara Tindall, offered on the podcast House of Rugby.
“So by the time I’d normally have gotten up, I’ve been to church twice. It’s strange for me, with not really a massive church-going background. So yeah, it’s completely different. I’ve never had to take as many outfits anywhere.”
Because dinners are formal, multi-course affairs where both black tie and impeccable manners are required. Which means children—along with George, 5, Charlotte, and 20-month-old Louis, the Tindall’s girls MIA, 5, and Lena, 18 months, are set to attend as are Savannah, 8, and Isla Phillips, 7, daughters of Zara’s brother Peter Phillips and his wife, Autumn—are expected to behave or dig into their roasted turkey at the kids’ table set up in the nursery. (The family’s youngest royal Archie Harrison, of course, will be enjoying a much quieter Christmas with Harry, Meghan Markle and grandma Doria Ragland.)
Still, for all the formality, it’s understood that kids, even ones with blue-blooded lineages, will be hopped up on sugar and visions of Santa on Christmas Day and part of the fun, as Harry relayed to former President Barack Obama on BBC Radio 4’s Today in 2017 is “running around with the kids.”
Also, as you might imagine, Christmas in a palace is quite lovely, a team of workers responsible for making sure every bough of holly is hung and every tree is trimmed. As a source told Us Weekly, “Sandringham at Christmas is beautifully decked out with a number of trees with antique decorations collected over the years.”
The decor at William and Kate’s nearby country home, Anmer Hall, is just as meticulous. And with all of Kate’s family said to be bunking in the 10-bedroom Georgian-style manor—a short drive from Sandringham—this year she’s doubtlessly gone all out.
For Kate it all starts with a tree that’s light on mess and heavy on the scent of Christmas. While helping children select their tannenbaum at Peterley Manor Farm, her first outing as patron of the charity Family Action, a role passed onto her by the Queen, “She was asking about the trees which drop their needles and those that don’t, and which ones smell nice!” said owner Roger Brill. Their usual pick: a Nordmann Fir, known for its strong branches, deep green hue and symmetrical shape.
The Christmas magic is on full display at Grandma and Grandpa Middleton’s as well. Carole Middleton revealed to The Telegraph last year that she likes to have as many trees as possible, including one in each kid’s room “so they can decorate it themselves.” And judging by a post on the Party Pieces instagram (the party supply company she and Michael Middleton have owned for some three decades) her theory seems to be that you can never do too much: “Fairy lights, wooden ornaments, and the ever-important glittery baubles!” she wrote of her tree trimming vibe. “There’s even a sneaky elf hidden somewhere in the branches!”
Once the trees are finished, Grandma has more tricks up her sleeves. “Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year,” she wrote in a 2015 edition of Homemaker magazine. “We’re all busy planning festive parties and get-togethers, but taking time to choose and make those all-important festive touches is a must.”
Her picks include a confetti balloon kit, a paper-and-string garland ideal for “young helpers to personalize” and Christmas-themed cupcakes because, as she puts it, “All children love to bake.”
Which means that George, Charlotte and little Louis should be delighted to see what’s waiting for them under the tree this year.
Watch E!’s Christmas Day marathon of It’s a Wonderful Life Wednesday, Dec. 25 starting at 6 a.m., only on E!
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