SANDRINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 12:  Prince Andrew, Duke of York looks on whilst Queen Elizabeth II receives a round of applause from guests to conclude a garden party in honour of her Diamond Jubilee at the Queen's Sandringham Estate on June 12, 2012 in Norfolk, England.  (Photo by Adrian Dennis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

It seems that breaking from tradition is the new normal for the royal family! This year, Prince George will get to spend the holidays with both sets of grandparents, as the Queen has invited the Middletons to Sandringham.

The royal family always spends the Christmas season at Her Majesty's Norfolk estate, though last year Prince William and Kate Middleton spent the holiday with Kate's family in Bucklebury. This year, however, royal sources have told the Daily Mail that "celebrations are set to be extra special after Prince George's arrival." Everyone wants to see the wee Prince celebrate his first Christmas!

Kate's sister Pippa may also receive an invitation, and if so she'll join almost all major members of the royal family at the sprawling estate. Prince Harry, who was unable to attend last year due to his tour in Afghanistan, will be there along with Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, as well as the pregnant Zara Phillips and her husband. With the addition of the Middletons to the bunch, it could be one of the largest holiday celebrations in recent history for the Norfolk estate (um, but everyone will probably still have an entire wing to themselves...). And WHAT if rumors are true, and Harry gets engaged before the end of the year? There may be a Bonas joining the group then, too.
The family will attend a Christmas service at the estate's church, and this will likely be the first time Prince George is seen in public since his debut to the world in July. The Queen owns somewhere around 150 properties on Sandringham (!!), one of which she has recently bestowed upon the Cambridges, Amner Hall. The new family is expected to move into the home, their very own 10-bedroom country estate, in the next few months. We're sure their pup Lupo will appreciate the space that comes with a country home since he'd gotten so used to living on the isle of Anglesey. The Duke and Duchess are said to be spending quite a bit of money making sure that the home is sufficiently private, comfortable and safe for their new family.

KING'S LYNN, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 13: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) A general view of the front of Anmer Hall on the Sandringham Estate on January 13, 2013 in King's Lynn, England. It has been reported that Queen Elizabeth II is to give Anmer Hall to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge to be their country house. (Photo by Indigo/Getty Images)

Prince George's new home at Sandringham

Kate's first Christmas as a royal

Arrivals Invitees usually arrive at the 20,000-acre estate from the morning of 23 December onwards in order of precedence. This means Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are usually among the last to arrive.


On Christmas Eve guests gather in the White Drawing Room for tea and are given a timetable. The Queen's grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be encouraged to put the finishing touches to the Christmas tree.

It's this day that presents are opened – touchingly for people who have everything they tend to buy each other joke presents rather than splashing out.

Princess Diana was famously taken aback when she presented everyone with expensive gifts at her first Windsor family Christmas, only to find that cheap knick knacks were exchanged.

The presents are laid out on a trestle table in the Red Drawing Room, with tapes showing where each person's offerings should be. It wouldn't be surprising if George's pile is a little higher given the excitement generated by his arrival.

Black Tie Dinner After this Kate will probably take advantage of a break to put George down for the evening. At 8pm a candle-lit dinner is served with the ladies in gowns and jewels and the men in black tie.

The party usually winds up at midnight when the royal matriarch retires, although it may be that Kate as a new mum slips away early.


On the morning of 25 December a full English breakfast is served. Then everyone attends a service at the nearby St Mary Magdalene Church. Royals are smartly dressed with the ladies in hats as the service acts as a sort of unofficial photocall and the chance for wellwishers to greet the Queen and her relatives.

Protective new mum Kate may choose to leave George behind given that a 1,000-strong crowd sometimes gathers.

The Windsors at Sandringham in 1970

Christmas Lunch and Queen's speech

Then it's back to the house for a turkey roast. After that everything comes to a halt at 3pm, however, when they gather around the TV to watch the Queen's Christmas speech.

It will be a particularly jolly affair as the sovereign will no doubt make mention of the happy events in her own family. If 1992 was her "annus horribilis", this rivals her Diamond Jubilee year in 2012 as an annus mirabilis.

As in many other households across Britain, the evening is spent playing games and watching TV. The relaxation is needed because on Boxing Day, Prince Philip organizes a bracing pheasant shoot.