This may be their first Christmas as a married couple and their last without children, but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex won’t spend the morning of December 25 together. Unsurprisingly, their separation on Christmas morning isn’t the couple’s choice but due to royal protocol.
Men and women who stay at Sandringham, the queen’s Norfolk residence, are separated on Christmas morning, according to tradition. The queen’s former chef Darren McGrady revealed in a piece for the Mail on Sunday that the female members of the royal family eat in their bedrooms, while the male members congregate downstairs in the dining room.
“On Christmas Day, the ladies generally opt for a light breakfast of sliced fruit, half a grapefruit, toast, and coffee delivered to their rooms,” McGrady wrote. “Male royals, meanwhile, come downstairs to the dining room for a hearty breakfast at 8:30 a.m. with eggs, bacon and mushrooms, kippers, and grilled kidneys,” he continued.
Royal butler-turned-etiquette expert Grant Harrold echoed this view telling Fabulous, “In a lot of aristocratic homes, it does still happen that the men will have breakfast downstairs while the women have breakfast in their bedroom. The reason it happens is because it’s an old tradition that when a couple [is] married, the gentleman would come down for breakfast and the ladies would remain upstairs,” Harrold added.
While breakfast in bed (and a few quiet minutes to yourself) is surely a lovely way to start the day, we can’t help but feel the women get shortchanged on the food front. Christmas is all about indulgence, and half a grapefruit isn’t what we had in mind when we picture a festive breakfast.
Interestingly, Harrold explained that this outdated rule only applies to married women, hence why Meghan will spend her Christmas morning with a fresh fruit platter while Harry enjoys his full English breakfast.
“All the ladies would have breakfast in bed apart from the single ladies. The single ladies have to be seen as ‘sociable’ whereas the ladies who were married didn’t have to come down and socialize,” Harrold confirmed.
This article was originally written by Elizabeth Bennett. For more, check out our sister site, Grazia.