It should come as no surprise that Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas present costs are astronomical—she’s a monarch, after all! But followers of the royal family may not have known just how much Her Majesty spends on holiday gifts each year—until now. A former royal aide revealed to The Sun that the Queen spends a whopping £30,000 (which is around $39,000) on presents annually. And the gifts included in that sum are interesting, to say that least.
The Queen gives out her gifts to both staff and family members—including royals like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Sussexes, and more. This year, there’s no telling how the Christmas gift exchange will play out. In years past, the royal family gathered at Sandringham Estate for the holiday—but 2021 may look a little different due to current case surges. For the time being, “the intention is to go to Sandringham for a family Christmas, but that might look a bit different and it may well be a much smaller family affair,” a royal source told Vanity Fair. Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Meghan and Harry’s Christmas plans are likely to see them staying in the United States. At least parcels are still a thing!
One thing has remained consistent, however. The Queen has a special strategy for doling out gifts for the over 620 people on her gift list each year: the presents aren’t personalized. Instead, Her Majesty shuffles through a selection of presents like “a book token, or a small piece of china from the palace gift shop,” a former royal aide told the Sun in a November 2020 report. “Most years she gives them a small Christmas pudding in a box as well,” they added. In an earlier story from 2019 on the subject, a source told the newspaper that the puddings were often accompanied by greeting cards from the Queen and her husband, the late Duke of Edinburgh.
For staff to receive their presents, they often attend a formal gift-giving event. Everyone gathers in one of Buckingham Palace’s grand staterooms, as directed by the Deputy Master of the Household. “Here they line up to receive a wrapped gift from the Queen, and she says a few words to each of them— usually something like, ‘Thank you so much for all your help during the year,’ followed by ‘Happy Christmas,'” the aide told the paper at the time.
The source added, “If the staff are not able to be there on the specified days—they may be a ghillie working at Balmoral for example—the Household makes sure they are sent to them, along with a card from HM.” One can only imagine that the process will look more like the latter this year, but the gesture is a sweet one either way!