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A Royal Christmas: the first official publication to explore the festive traditions of royalty past and present

Release date: Thursday, 18 October 2018


Through a thousand years of British history, the celebration of Christmas has been one of the most important events in the royal calendar.  A Royal Christmas is the first official publication to explore the festive traditions of generations of the royal family, through more than 150 objects, photographs and documents from the Royal Collection and the Royal Archives, many published for the first time.

Through seven thematic chapters, such as 'Ceremonies and Traditions' and 'Festive Feasting', this beautifully illustrated gift book offers new insights into the royal family's influence on the Christmas customs we know and love today.  These range from the Christmas trees first brought by Queen Charlotte from her native Germany, to the roast turkey popularised by King Edward VII.  A Royal Christmas also details the history of the Christmas Broadcast, watched each year by millions of people around the world.

Among the most personal items detailed in the book are gifts exchanged between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert during the many Christmases they spent together at Windsor Castle.  A jewelled brooch, given to the Queen by Prince Albert in 1841, features an enamel portrait miniature of their first child, Victoria, Princess Royal, in the guise of a cherub.  In her journal the Queen declared that 'the workmanship & design are quite exquisite, & dear Albert was so pleased at my delight over it, it having been entirely his own idea & taste'.

Food and drink have for centuries played a key part in royal Christmas festivities.  As well as Christmas dinner menus and recipes, readers will discover some of the more surprising fare eaten by royalty at Christmas, from the roast swan and gilded peacocks dined on by medieval monarchs, to the plum broth served to George IV on Christmas Day, which contained large quantities of port, brandy, madeira, sherry and claret.  

Christmas plays and pageants have been performed at the royal court since the Middle Ages. During the wartime years of the early1940s, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret took part in a series of Christmas pantomimes at Windsor Castle.  A Royal Christmas features photographs of the Princesses performing in Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin and Old Mother Red Riding Boots, an original combination of the best parts of many pantomimes.  Proceeds from the productions were donated to the Wool Fund, which supplied knitting wool for the making of comforters for the armed forces.

A Royal Christmas is published by Royal Collection Trust and is available from 18 October 2018 at £12.95 from Royal Collection Trust shops and at £14.95 from all good bookshops.