A biographer's revelation that the Queen puts children in a different room for Christmas lunch had Niamh McCollum looking wistfully back on her years spent at the kids' table
With Christmas just around the corner, we’re more curious than ever to learn about the festive family dynamics of the Royals. From attending church service at St Mary Magdalene, to giving all members of staff a £35 voucher (sound), the Queen allegedly has a whole host of Christmas traditions.
One tradition in particular has fired up some serious debate in Marie Claire HQ. According to a royal biographer, the Queen insists that during Christmas lunch, the royal children be seated in a different room from the adults.
Having been born into a large Irish family, I spent my whole childhood grappling with the complex world of adult and kids tables. As each special occasion came along, it was the same dance. I would arrive at our family friend’s house or restaurant, wearing my most grown-up of party dresses, only to be pushed aside to a separate (and not as delicately-set) dinner table.
Throughout the years, I’d watch my older siblings gradually be welcomed further down the room, into the enigmatic aura of inappropriate one-liners and stacked-up beer cases. Myself and my youngest sister would be left sitting solemnly at the plastic kids table, wondering – ‘when will it be us?’
I eventually made peace with it. The rejection stung, sure, but it was the approval I craved more than an actual place at the adults table – like being invited to the party of a friend-of-a-friend that you actually can’t really stand.
The kids table educated me in the weird and wonderful ways of the world – I never would have been able to discover what different swear words meant in Spanish had I been lumped with the parents. The unequivocal sense of liberation felt at the kid’s table also cannot be understated. Freed from the shackles of social conformity, no member of the kids table passes judgment on the way you hold your knife or fork, nor does anyone stick their nose up at a face covered in food, in fact, the more on your face, the better the meal, quite frankly.
My time on the kids table taught me the importance of taking risks. Meticulously planned dares were inevitable, and our desire to one-up each-other pushed our limits to the max. I’ll never forget the Christmas my cousin won the adoration of our fellow kids table members as she swallowed a whole spoonful of chilli powder. I looked on in awe, hoping that one day I might be that brave.
Now at 24, I cherish my established place at the dinner table of adult-hood, my wine glass consistently topped up and my opinion on sophisticated topics valued. Although I look back with fondness on the days spent sitting at the kids table, rife with risky dares and ice-cream soup. Enjoy the fun while it lasts, Charlotte, George and Louis. Being confined to the kids table may feel degrading, but it sure builds character.