Charles and the Queen Consort are treating dozens of relatives to a sit-down turkey lunch today – as the King hosts his first annual Christmas meal for the wider royal family as monarch at Windsor Castle.
This year’s event sees the family brought together in the largest reunion since the Queen’s funeral in September – and the first time the traditional gathering has taken place since 2019, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dozens of royals are expected to attend, with the Queen Consort and Earl and Countess of Wessex among the first to arrive, but notable absentees include Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and their son Archie and daughter Lilibet, who remain in the US.
The turkey and trimmings lunch has typically taken place annually at Buckingham Palace on the Wednesday before Christmas, shortly before the monarch leaves for Sandringham for the festive season.
The Queen Consort looked serene as she was driven into Windsor Castle today, wrapping up warm in a padded navy jacket, ahead of the annual Christmas lunch.
However this year, in a break from tradition, the event takes place at Windsor Castle.
The first to arrive this afternoon was King Charles himself, who traveled to Windsor in a car.
He opted for a smart baby blue tie for the occasion, which he paired with a navy blue suit.
Meanwhile the Queen Consort followed shortly afterward, and Serene looked on as she was driven into the castle grounds.
King Charles is hosting his first annual Christmas lunch for the wider royal family as monarch at Windsor Castle this afternoon
Meanwhile Princess Anne donned a pair of dark sunglasses as she was driven into the event by her husband Tim Laurence
She was wrapped up warm in a padded navy jacket, which she paired with a blue velvet blouse beneath.
Prince Edward drove his wife, Sophie Wessex, and their teenage daughter Lady Louise Windsor, into the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The Countess and Lady Louise sat next to each other in the back seat of the car.
And while the Countess opted for a smart brown coat for the occasion, Lady Louise, 18, appeared to don a bright pink floral blouse for the outing.
Meanwhile Sophie Wessex arrived at the event alongside her teenage daughter Lady Louise (pictured)
Prince Edward drove his family to the event at Windsor Castle this afternoon, with Sophie and his daughter Lady Louise in the back seat.
The unassuming 18-year-old, often seen in country casuals or prim dresses, spent her childhood largely out of the spotlight, and recently started attending St Andrew’s University.
Meanwhile Princess Anne donned a pair of dark sunglasses as she was driven into the event by her husband Tim Laurence.
The tradition is one of the rare times all of the monarch’s extended family meet, and is a chance for the King to celebrate with those who do not receive an invitation to spend Christmas in Norfolk with the senior royals.
The family are seated at round tables, enjoy a Sandringham-bred turkey lunch and pull crackers.
It’s the first time the royals have gathered for the traditional celebration since before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Queen Consort appeared in high spirits as she wrapped up warm in a padded navy jacket, which she paired with a blue velvet blouse beneath.
The Queen Consort appeared in high spirits ahead of the festive lunch at Windsor Castle this afternoon, which is the first of its kind in a number of years.
According to The Telegraph, the Duke of York is expected to be among the attendees at the event.
Last year, the late Queen had planned to welcome 50 family members to Windsor Castle where she was then residing, but canceled due to fears over the Omnicron variant.
The lunch was also called off in December 2020 when London was in lockdown and people were urged not to travel around the country due to Covid.
Last week, a number of senior royals came together for Kate’s Together at Christmas carol service, which took place at Westminster Abbey.
Meanwhile King Charles was the first member of the royal family to arrive for the festive occasion today
The lunch, which will see a number of royals brought together, is a regular tradition for The Firm. However, today it is being hosted for the first time by King Charles
Body language expert Judi said the Royal Family projected ‘bonding and unity’ as they gathered for the carol service after Harry and Meghan’s latest slew of attacks.
Ms James said the princess’s ‘warm smile of pride’ as she watched her children exchange kisses with the monarch ‘show everything we need to know about family unity’.
She said further clues came from ‘extra, add-on touches’ including ‘lingering smiles and eye contact’.
There were audible cheers from members of the public who shouted ‘we love you’ to William and Kate as they stood in the cold to greet the future king and queen outside the Abbey.
Poignantly, William read a passage from the late Queen’s 2012 Christmas message in which Her late Majesty said she was ‘always struck by the spirit of togetherness’ at Christmas.
It was a time, she had added, ‘When we remember that God sent his only son to serve, not to be served’.
Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have said they will not comment on Harry and Meghan’s claims – with the King said to be determined never to watch the six-part series.
Today’s gathering comes after it was confirmed that the King, Queen Consort and members of the Royal Family will spend Christmas at Sandringham for the first time in three years.
It comes as snaps were released showing the Princess of Wales planting a tree in memory of the Queen last week
Charles and Camilla will celebrate Christmas Day at the late Queen’s former Norfolk Estate with family members, marking a return to traditional royal festivities.
The gathering at Sandringham will be the first time the Royal Family has spent Christmas at the private royal residence since 2019, and it will be a poignant period following the death of the Queen in September.
Buckingham Palace said in a brief statement: ‘Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort accompanied by members of the Royal Family will attend the Morning Service on Christmas Day at Sandringham Church, on Sunday 25th December 2022.’
It is likely Charles and Camilla will be joined by the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children, the Princess Royal and her family, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children – but it remains to be seen if the disgraced Duke of York will make a public appearance.
Questions also remain over Harry and Meghan, who are said to be frozen out of Charles’s first Christmas dinner at Sandringham as monarch – after their Netflix series launched an unprecedented attack on the Royal Family, accusing the King of ‘lying’ and the Prince of Wales of ‘screaming’ at his brother.
Christmas at Sandringham follows a break, when, due to the Covid pandemic, the late Queen spent the festive period at Windsor Castle two years in a row – the first with the Duke of Edinburgh, separated from her wider family in lockdown.
Royal Christmases feature a morning trip to St Mary Magdalene Church, the greeting of well-wishers, and a family lunch with turkey and all the trimmings.
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