The One Royal Tradition Queen Elizabeth II Breaks Once a Year

Her small but thoughtful gesture will warm your heart.

The British monarchy is notorious for its stickler attitude when it comes to royal protocol—and Queen Elizabeth II is no exception. Her Majesty is also a woman who values routine; for example, she only carries cash one day a week and eats the same thing for breakfast every day. When she gets in a festive mood, however, she’s reportedly willing to make one small departure from tradition.

Christmas Day is a busy time in Sandringham House, where the royal family and their staff spend Christmas. But the rules are briefly set aside during Christmas lunch, when the Queen pauses her festivities to give one of her staff members a touching Yuletide gift.

After the meat has been carved, the most senior chef spends a moment with Her Majesty in the dining room—a place exclusively reserved for the royal family, former royal chef Darren McGrady revealed. Here are 12 more times royal family members broke their own protocol.

“Right before the Christmas buffet, the senior chef on duty goes into the dining room and carves the rib roast or turkey or ham and once he’s done, Her Majesty presents the chef with a glass of whiskey and they toast,” McGrady told the Mirror. “That’s the only time the chef goes into the dining room and has a glass of whiskey with the royal family. It’s one of the chef’s favorite traditions.”

To join in on this year’s festivities at Sandringham House—in spirit, at least—check out these royal family holiday traditions you’ll want to steal for yourself. These royal traditions, however, aren’t the most exciting.