Despite the extravagance of royal life, Queen Elizabeth II had some seriously thrifty Christmas hacks to save money over the holidays, from reusing wrapping paper to saving up Tesco clubcard points.
Christmas seems to creep out of nowhere every single year. We're all already preempting the start of the 12 days of Christmas, waiting for the release of the John Lewis Christmas advert and trying to get in early for Morrisons' Christmas delivery slots. There's so much to look forward to over the Christmas period, with the delight of the year's best Christmas food hampers, the excitement of CBeebies' Christmas Panto and the promise of a delicious Christmas cake that's going to be so easy to cook in the air fryer this year.
We already know a bit about the Royal Family's Christmas plans this year. Buckingham Palace accidentally revealed their big holiday plans and it could be a huge moment for Prince Louis to make his Christmas debut. But while they will be hosting big royal events, the family will still be employing some pretty nifty Christmas hacks to save money this year over the holidays, just like many of us will be thanks to the cost-of-living crisis.
Christmas is a notoriously expensive time of year, but over the years Queen Elizabeth adopted many thrifty saving hacks that we're sure the frugal King Charles will be keen to keep up.
Writing in her book Young Elizabeth: The Making Of Our Queen, royal author Kate Williams revealed, “After Christmas, Elizabeth would collect up the wrapping paper and ribbons and would smooth them out to be saved.” She claims that the royals continue the habit to this day.
The recycled wrapping paper would conceal surprisingly normal and basic gifts that the late Queen made it tradition to exchange. The Express reports that one year Elizabeth was 'thrilled' to open an electric kettle and a see-through umbrella, while another year Princess Anne was gifted an ironing board as her present from her mother.
And her thriftiness extended further than just frugal gifts. In 1999 the publication reports that the late Queen bought her Christmas puddings from Tesco after realising the huge saving that could be made by switching from Harrods. Even more frugal, the Palace got a Tesco clubcard before the purchase and then donated all the points from the sale to the Crisis homeless shelter.
It wasn't just at Christmas time that Queen Elizabeth looked to save money and she developed a range of brilliant tricks to cut back on costs. She reportedly would insist that the Palace's cereals and porridge oats were kept in airtight Tupperware containers rather than their original cardboard containers as this would help to prolong their lifespan.
Speaking about her hatred of food waste in 2012, former royal chef Darren McGrady told The Express that the monarch once sent back a lemon garnish from her plate, instructing the kitchen that it could be used again by the kitchen for tomorrow's garnish!
Phil Dampier, in his co-written book What’s In The Queen’s Handbag And Other Royal Secrets, shared, “Very often when she’s at home she’ll be happy to have leftovers. She is careful with money and always watches the pennies." He also added, "She has got handbags which she has had for 30 or 40 years and which she continues to use.”
Her famous approach to reusing accessories and clothes also extended to what her sons were wearing in their childhood. With three boys, the middle child Prince Andrew would wear older brother King Charles' hand-me-downs, with the youngest son Prince Edward then getting handed the already handed down clothes to wear.
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Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer for Goodto.com. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.
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