Royal Family: This is how they ring in the New Year

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It was been a very different Christmas for the Royal Family following Queen Elizabeth's passing, and royal watchers are wondering what their New Year celebration will be.

As the world ushers in the new year, the British royal family, like many around the globe, embraces a set of unique traditions to bid farewell to the old and welcome the new. One notable tradition is the game of 'lucky dip,' a New Year's Eve activity that has become a staple for the royals. Following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022, King Charles III has taken the reins of several cherished customs once led by the late Queen.

Changes following late Queen's passing

Typically, the royal family departs Buckingham Palace just before Christmas, heading to Sandringham House, the Queen's country estate in Norfolk. Here, family members gather to celebrate the new year, continuing a tradition that Queen Elizabeth upheld for years. However, the late Queen's former press secretary, Charles Anson, has noted that Christmas tends to take precedence over New Year's in royal festivities, with a focus on party games and cherished activities like charades. He told The Times:

'[There is] a long tradition of Christmas and party games – and things like charades have always been popular with the Queen – that started during the war when they were holed up at Windsor and couldn’t go out because of the air raids.'
Royal Family New Year celebration Samir Hussein

One unique aspect of the royal family's New Year's celebration is the game of 'lucky dip.' Brian Hoey, a royal family author, detailed this tradition in his book 'At Home with the Queen.' As per The Mirror, the game involves a tub filled with sawdust and hidden predictions for the new year written on pieces of paper. This lighthearted activity is part of the festive atmosphere that the royal family enjoys during their time at Sandringham.

On New Year's Day, the royal family attends church at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, followed by various outdoor activities such as horseback riding and pheasant shooting. However, recent years have seen adjustments to these traditions due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the late Queen's health issues.

Even though several traditions revolve around family, the Prince and Princess of Wales have not participated in past celebrations. Instead, they have typically spent New Year's with Kate Middleton's parents. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who relinquished their roles as senior working royals in 2020, also follow a similar pattern, residing in California.

Christmas dinners for the royals

The festive season also includes the royal family's Christmas celebrations, where a traditional menu takes centre stage. Former Royal Family chef Darren McGrady revealed that the royals maintain a consistent and traditional Christmas feast, featuring turkeys, mashed and roast potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and more. He told NDTV that drinks of choice include a classic gin and dubonnet cocktail and Gewurztraminer, a German white wine.

Royal Family New Year celebration Karwai Tang

The chef told OK!:

'They've always been very traditional, so the royals eat the same things every year. They're no different to most families in not wanting to mess around with the food at Christmas.'

A special Christmas

Following the Christmas Day festivities, the royal family typically goes for a walk around Sandringham Estate before returning to watch the Queen's speech. This year, however, King Charles delivered his first Christmas speech since ascending to the throne.

On Christmas morning, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, stood by Andrew's side as they attended the festive church service, marking a significant return after more than 30 years. Despite their divorce in 1996, the couple has maintained a close relationship, residing together and frequently appearing in public alongside their daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie.

While these traditions are deeply rooted in history, recent changes have been notable. According to The Independent, Pince Harry and Meghan Markle were notably absent from the royal family's Christmas at Sandringham, choosing to spend the festive occasion at their home in California. The last time the Sussexes shared the festive period with the royal family was in 2018, when they were invited to the Sandringham estate by the late Queen Elizabeth.

Despite the geographical distance, the Sussexes enjoyed a wholesome day, cooking, playing games, and exchanging gifts with Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, and friends.

Read more:

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© Chris Jackson

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