Queen's strict Christmas ritual revealed, from menus written in French to her 'strong' martini

Queen Elizabeth II after she recorded her annual Christmas Day message, in the White Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace in central London. [Photo: PA]

The Queen's Christmas Day ritual has been revealed in a new documentary.

The Royal Family traditionally spend the Christmas period at Sandringham with Queen Elizabeth, 93, and Prince Philip, 98, and during this time a number of customs take place.

As the head of the Royal Family, Her Majesty dictates the annual traditions.

Some of these are well-known: As explained on the Royal website, the family exchange gifts on Christmas Eve and attend a church service at St Mary Magdalene Church.

However, some of the lesser-known ones were revealed in the Channel 5 documentary Inside Sandringham: Holidaying With The Queen.

Royal Christmas preparations

Before any of the festivities take place, the nonagenarian monarch is kept busy approving the royal decorations at all official royal residences, said royal commentator Dickie Arbiter.

"[The Sandringham estate] is decorated in much the same way as people throughout the United Kingdom decorate their tree," he said. "You've got the baubles, the tinsel, the coloured lights."

Both the Queen and Prince Philip personally sign every Christmas card sent out ahead of Christmas, Arbiter added.

"There's no stencilling or faxing or anything like that, and the card count runs into hundreds," he said. "All the staff get a card, then friends get a card. There are people you've got send cards to and people you want to send cards to, but every card is signed by both of them."

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The royals at Christmas
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The royals at Christmas
TOPSHOT - A picture released on December 24, 2018 shows Britain's Queen Elizabeth II posing for a photograph after she recorded her annual Christmas Day message, in the White Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace in central London. (Photo by John Stillwell / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP via Getty Images)
In this picture taken on December 7, 2012 Queen Elizabeth II records her Christmas message to the Commonwealth which is to be broadcast in 3D for the first time, in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace in London . AFP PHOTO/POOL/ John Stillwell (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP via Getty Images)
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Queen Elizabeth II attends Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
royals-christmas
Britain's Prince Charles, left, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, 2nd left, Price William, Meghan Markle, fiancee of Prince Harry, 2nd right and Prince Philip, right, as they wait for the Queen to leave by car following the traditional Christmas Day church service, at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Queen Elizabeth II attends Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of Sussex arriving to attend the Christmas Day morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waves after attending a traditional Christmas Day Church Service at Sandringham in eastern England, on December 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL / AFP / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
With the recent debut of the royals’ Christmas cards this year, we had to ask: Who’s on the mailing list? Does every palace staff member get their very...
STANDALONE PHOTO Haleh Niazi of Chelsea College of Art & Design helps decorate a christmas tree in Buckingham Palace today in preparation for tomorrow's young acheivers reception hosted by the Queen and other members of the Royal family. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
STANDALONE PHOTO Huai-min Hsieh of Chelsea College of Art & Design helps decorate a christmas tree in Buckingham Palace today in preparation for tomorrow's young acheivers reception hosted by the Queen and other members of the Royal family. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 14: A Dancer From The English National Ballet, Dressed In Costume, Stands In Front Of A Christmas Tree At Buckingham Palace Whilst Attending A Christmas Tea (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
A Royal Collection Trust member of staff puts the finishing touches to a 20ft Nordmann fir tree, sourced from the Windsor Great Park, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Royal Collection Trust members of staff put the finishing touches to a 15ft Christmas tree in the Crimson Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Royal Collection Trust member of staff puts the finishing touches to a 20ft Nordmann fir tree, sourced from the Windsor Great Park, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Royal Collection Trust member of staff puts the finishing touches to a 20ft Nordmann fir tree, sourced from the Windsor Great Park, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Final preparations are made to a 20ft Norman Fir Christmas tree in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, which is being decorated for Christmas. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Royal Collection Trust member of staff makes the final preparations to a 20ft Norman Fir Christmas tree in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, which is being decorated for Christmas. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Royal Collection Trust member of staff makes the final preparations to a 20ft Norman Fir Christmas tree in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, which is being decorated for Christmas. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Final preparations are made to a 20ft Norman Fir Christmas tree in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, which is being decorated for Christmas. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Royal Collection Trust members of staff put the finishing touches to a 15ft Christmas tree in the Crimson Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Lights are installed onto the Christmas tree outside Windsor Castle, Berkshire, ahead of the Christmas Lights Switch on and Lantern Procession on November 17, by Staff from Lamps and Tubes illuminations Ltd working for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
(360 image) A member of the Royal Collection hangs a decoration on a 20ft Nordmann Fir tree from Windsor Great Park in the St George's Hall on November 23, 2017 in Windsor, England.
A Royal Collection Trust staff member puts the finishing touches to a 20ft Nordmann fir tree in St George's Hall, as part of Christmas decorations being put up at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Queen Elizabeth II attends Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
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For the most part, we do not see the royal Christmas celebrations, with their festivities at Sandringham remaining a private affair.

However, we do receive some glimpses. Last week, the Palace shared pictured of the Christmas trees erected at Windsor Castle. A 15ft tree was erected in the castle's Crimson Drawing Room, while a 20ft version was placed in St George's Hall.

Meanwhile, the Queen's Christmas Day speech – which is filmed in October – features a hint at some of the Palace festive decorations. Last year it was filmed in the drawing room at Buckingham Palace.

Not one to be left out, Prince Philip has an annual tradition of his own.

Royal expert Claudia Joseph said: "Prince Philip will always put the gold star on the top of the tree, and probably will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

"He's quite a stalwart and won't let other people take control. When any young children come they put their own decorations on."

Royal Christmas Eve

Prince Charles, Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry arrive to attend church on Christmas Day 2018. [Photo: Getty]

According to the documentary, festive celebrations at Sandringham begin with a drinks reception at the Norfolk Estate, beginning at 7:30pm on Christmas Eve.

During this time, the Queen will make a toast to the royal chef – and hers is a "strong" martini.

"I think the Queen likes a martini, other people would rather have champagne," said editor of Majesty magazine Ingrid Seward. "Prince Philip isn't a great drinker, he always used to drink pale ale."

The family will then sit down to a six-course candle-lit dinner, with the menu written in French.

Royal Christmas Day

The day itself runs to a strict order. It begins with a Christmas Day breakfast buffet, which the family will eat in their church clothes and serve themselves (aside from the Queen, who is served by staff).

The church service is followed up with a traditional Christmas lunch, and afterwards they watch the Queen's Speech (which is pre-recorded) together at 3pm. During the day, the family also play charades and party games.

Royal writer Richard Kay added: 'We all think it's a terribly formal, but really [the Royal Family] have a wonderful relaxed time at Sandringham like the rest of us."

-This article first appeared on Yahoo

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