Here's why the royal family open their presents on Christmas Eve every year

Did you know this?

Members of the royal family gather on the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch the annual Trooping the Colour parade in 2016
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Royal Christmases are kept pretty secret, and aside from the traditional walk to church, a ban on Monopoly and their love of cinnamon stars, their traditions stay behind closed doors. From what we do know however, they are far from relatable.

We are of course talking about the unique festive traditions, from entering the dining room in order of title to what will appear on the royal menu. It was their traditions around Christmas presents however that made news this week as it emerged that the Mountbatten-Windsors always unwrap their gifts on Christmas Eve. According to royal expert Robert Jobson, it is actually a tradition that dates back to Victorian times.

"Royals have done it every year since," Jobson explained to in 2021. "On Christmas Eve when all the clan are together, the monarch's grandchildren and great-grandchildren put the finishing touches to the 20ft Christmas tree in the White Drawing Room. Presents will be opened that day at tea time as the royals still keep to the German practice of opening their gifts on Christmas Eve."

He continued: "Gifts are laid out in the Red Drawing Room on a white linen-covered trestle table, with cards marking exactly where the piles of gifts should be put. Once everyone has arrived, the royal guests enjoy a traditional Christmas that includes putting the finishing touches on the Christmas tree and the giving of cheap and humorous gifts."

But what kind of gifts are given by the royals? "The monarch's gifts are unlikely to be pricey," Robert Jobson went on to explain. "Touchingly for people who have everything, the royals tend to buy each other jokey things. A white leather loo suit was the star item one year."

Royals - they’re just like us.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.