Mike Tindall lifts lid on Royal Family Christmas tradition: ‘More quiet now’

Zara and Mike Tindall: Expert on ‘breaking royal protocol’

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Mike, a former professional rugby player, became part of the Royal Family when he married Zara Phillips, Princess Anne’s daughter, in 2011. Compared to other members of the Firm, they live a relatively quiet and private life. This is because, after giving birth to Zara, Anne chose not to give her daughter a royal title

It means that Zara, a successful equestrian, enjoys the benefits of a royal life without the strings of public duty attached.

Over the years, Mike has appeared in a number of interviews, revealing snippets of Royal life.

For a while, he even had his own podcast with fellow former professional rugby player James Haskell and presenter Alex Payne.

It was not until he sat down and spoke to JOE UK’s House of Rugby podcast last year, however, that Mike spilled the beans on what a traditional Sandringham Christmas is like.

Traditionally, it was believed that the royal Christmas Day was a grand affair.

Darren McGrady, the Firm’s former chef, previously said: “After church, that’s when they have a big lunch that includes a salad with shrimp or lobster, and a roasted turkey, and all of your traditional side dishes like parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and Christmas pudding with brandy butter for dessert.

“They stick with the same meal year after year.”

However, Mike said things panned out differently, and explained: “Yeah it is good. So Christmas Day is a little more quiet because it’s actually a cold buffet because they give everyone the day off, and their big day is Christmas Eve.”

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At the meal on Christmas Eve, he said that there are no Christmas crackers on the table – and the children are seated in another room.

Mike explained the family all sit around to watch the Queen’s speech together “with a little glass of something”.

Describing the scene at Christmas dinner, he said: “This is the other one, the family lunch, there must be about 70 of us there – there are seven tables and then the kiddies have their own little one in a different room.

“I was on Prince Charles’ table.

“It was lovely, really good.”


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There are a number of traditions that play out at the Royal residence during Christmas, including Secret Santa.

Monopoly does not have a place at the table, however, with Prince Andrew previously saying it was banned because it becomes too “vicious”.

An entrenched tradition, dating back to King Edward VII, sees each member weigh themselves before and after they eat, to ensure that they have been well-fed.

Some members, like the Tindalls, did not go to Sandringham for Christmas in 2019.

They were forced to miss out again in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will again have to skip Sandringham after the Queen this week announced she was cancelling the event.

She will instead stay at Windsor Castle where she has spent much of the pandemic.

Describing it as a personal decision, Buckingham Palace said it reflects the Queen’s “precautionary approach” to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, she also confirmed that she would not be going ahead with her family pre-Christmas lunch.

That was also in response to worries about the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.

It is not yet known which members of her family will be visiting her at Windsor.

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