What do the Royals eat on Christmas Day?

the royals on christmas day
(Image credit: AFP via Getty Images)

Have you ever wondered what the Royals eat on Christmas Day? While we at home tuck into traditional Christmas food, are the royal family sharing a similar festive feast? Or do they have their own traditions?

We all have our own family traditions and the royal family are no different. The senior family members rarely break royal Christmas traditions and former royal senior chef, Darren McGrady, has revealed what the Royals eat on Christmas Day. Shedding light on how the Queen and Prince Philip, Prince William and Kate, their children and the whole royal family enjoy their festive fare.

So, as Christmas fast approaches, find out what the Royals eat on Christmas Day - you may be surprised at some of the less traditional elements...

What do the Royals eat on Christmas Day?

Former royal chef, Darren McGrady has revealed what the royal family eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Christmas Day.

There’s no worrying about being too "full up" for the big lunch in the royal household as the family enjoy a full cooked breakfast before they go to church together, as is tradition on Christmas day.

Royal Family at church on Christmas day

Prince William,  Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the Christmas Day Church service with the rest of the royals on Christmas Day 2019. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

When they return from church, then it is time for the main Christmas meal. The Queen always enjoys a roast turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas Day lunch, as well as a "salad with a shrimp or a lobster". But which trimmings, exactly?

"Usually it was homemade sage and onion stuffing, Brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, sometimes parsnips and carrots – it varied year to year – mashed potatoes and roast potatoes, homemade gravy." There’s no garlic though, as garlic is one of few foods Her Majesty doesn’t eat.

The Queen in Sandringham with pictures of the royal family on Christmas Day

A lot of people are asking the question, what do the royal family eat on Christmas Day?

As well as Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, the royals enjoy a festive afternoon tea later on in the day. As we know that chocolate is one of the Queen's favourites, the cakes included in the afternoon tea are hardly a surprise: "[the afternoon tea] always included a chocolate Yule log, a Christmas cake made by the chefs in the kitchen and a selection of chocolatey pastries." 

As if that wasn’t enough delicious food, the royals enjoy a "buffet dinner" of 15-20 different items - including a variety of roasted meats, seafood, cooked vegetable and gingerbread cookies - with the chefs at the table carving the meats.

Darren McGrady was senior chef at the royal household

Darren McGrady was senior chef at the royal household

"Right before the Christmas buffet, the senior chef on duty goes into the dining room and carves the rib roast or turkey or ham and once he’s done, Her Majesty presents the chef with a glass of whiskey and they toast," Darren explains.

"That’s the only time the chef goes into the dining room and has a glass of whiskey with the royal family. It’s one of the chef’s favourite traditions."

A Christmas dinner being served at a pub

Most people will eat turkey and all the trimmings on Christmas Day

Their favourite dishes include Potted Shrimp, Beef Bourguignon, Shredded Brussels sprouts with onions and bacon, Bubble and Squeak and Date Apple Pastry. 

What time does the Queen eat Christmas dinner?

After attending the morning church service at St. Mary Magdalene, the Queen and family sit down for lunch at 1pm.

Darren reveals, "They opened their Christmas presents the day before, on Christmas Eve. So after breakfast they’d go to church, come back and go on to lunch."

While this is the tradition, the coronavirus pandemic could mean a different Christmas for the Queen this year.  With new Christmas lockdown rules in England, the Queen and Prince Philip will not be able to enjoy their Christmas meal with the whole extended royal family this year - as festive celebrations must only be shared by three different households under the new rules for 2020.

What is it like working for the royal family at Christmas?

Darren McGrady joined the royal household in 1982 and worked his way up through the ranks to become senior chef for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip - a job he enjoyed until 1993.

On spending the festive period at the Palace, Darren explains, "We worked alternate Christmases. You would be at Sandringham for two weeks. So, if you wanted to celebrate with your family, you’d have to celebrate with them before or after because usually you’d be up there from December 22 until after New Year."


Despite being away from his own family, Darren said the royals more than made up for it.

“They (the royal family) always made it special for you... The staff would have lots to drink and there would be loads of food and chocolate – and you’d have the full turkey roast, so you weren’t really missing out because you were enjoying the celebration too.”

Celebrity writer

Georgia is a Celebrity and Royal Writer working across GoodTo and Woman & Home, and the Director and Founder of communications company Farq Media. Prior to this she was Online Editor at New! Magazine – managing all of their digital content and social media accounts. Where she interviewed all of the hottest reality TV stars and spent far too much time commuting to London. She trained at Nottingham Trent University – where she achieved First Class Honours in Print Journalism whilst juggling copious amounts of work experience, freelance writing, blogging and having far too much fun with the dance society.