Meghan Markle to participate in royal holiday traditions: 5 bizarre customs of the British monarchy

With holidays fast-approaching, all eyes are on the royal family — Meghan Markle, in particular — as they continue decades-old traditions that some outsiders may find a bit unusual.

Markle and her husband Prince Harry have been known to stray from the British monarchy’s customs from time to time, but they’ll likely willingly participate in some Christmas activities and events at the request of Queen Elizabeth II.


Here’s a look at some of the more bizarre customs Markle and company will be expected to follow.

Weighing in

Meghan Markle will step on the scale after eating her Christmas dinner this year. (iStock

Markle and her mother Doria Ragland will step on the scale before and after finishing up their Christmas dinner, royal expert and editor of Majesty magazine Ingrid Seward told Grazia. The pair will be weighed after eating a traditional turkey dinner, ensuring they are “well fed.”

It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1900s — when King Edward VII reigned, The Sun explains.

And don’t worry, Markle and Ragland won’t be singled out. Apparently, every member of the royal family follows this century-old tradition.

Opening presents

Royal families do not exchange gifts on Christmas Day.(2012 Getty Images)

Each holiday season — for the past two decades — the royal family retreats to the Sandringham House, Queen Elizabeth II’s private country home in Norfolk, England. There, they celebrate both Christmas and the New Year together. And there are certain customs the royals have come to love over the years.

For example, many families may exchange gifts on Christmas Day, but the royal family (children included) has their own routine.

“The Royal Family lay out their presents on trestle tables and will exchange their gifts at teatime [on Christmas Eve],” the Royal Household states online.

Former royal chef Darren McGrady said this age-old tradition can actually be attributed to the British family’s German heritage.

“The royals are of German descent so they weave in German traditions to their celebrations,” McGrady told Express on Tuesday, noting Germans typically open presents on Dec. 24. “After afternoon tea, they open gifts on Christmas Eve, as is the German tradition.”

Gag gifts

When it comes to gift giving, they royals prefer when family members think outside of the box.

“The crazier and the more quirky is what they love,” former royal chef Darren McGrady told People in 2013. “It’s not about something really amazing or a Cartier watch.”

In 2017, Markle reportedly gave Queen Elizabeth II a singing hamster.

“Meghan bought a little hamster that sings with a little rope for Her Majesty,” a source told the Daily Star in January. “It was so funny, especially when the corgis tried to take hold of the toy.”

Christmas Crackers

Isolated Red Christmas Cracker on white (iStock)

During Christmas lunch, Queen Elizabeth II apparently wears a paper hat and shares jokes with her family.

“A Christmas Cracker is a cardboard paper tube, wrapped in brightly coloured paper and twisted at both ends. There is a banger inside the cracker, two strips of chemically impregnated paper that react with friction so that when the cracker is pulled apart by two people, the cracker makes a bang,” according to the History and Heritage Accommodation Guide.

There are jokes written inside of the crackers that are often very “corny,” the magazine notes. They also contain a paper hat.

“The idea of wearing a paper crown may have originated from the Twelfth Night celebrations, where a King or Queen was appointed to look over the proceedings,” the publication added.

Christmas decorations

While some people get out of the Christmas spirit as soon as Dec. 26 hits, others take their time reflecting on the holiday — which means, they probably wait a few weeks to take down their Christmas decorations. The Queen is definitely one of these people.

And it’s not because the royal staff procrastinates. It’s actually a tradition to continue the Christmas cheer through February.

Each holiday season — for the past two decades — the royal family retreats to the Sandringham House, Queen Elizabeth II’s private country home in Norfolk, England. There, they celebrate both Christmas and the New Year together. The estate is particularly special to the Queen; it’s where her father, King George VI, died.

King George VI died on February 6, 1952. To honor his life, the Queen keeps all of the Christmas decorations up until that date, according to Architectural Digest.