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20 Rarely Seen Royal Family Christmas Photos

Updated: Sep. 01, 2023

Ah, Christmas. 'Tis the most wonderful time of the year for everyone, and that includes the royal family. These photos, rarely seen, depict some of the royal family's most special Christmas moments.

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british royal family christmas
Hugo Burnand/Shutterstock

A royal Christmas

The royal family always seems to be in the public eye, but some celebrations are a little more private. Take a look at these rarely seen photos of the royal around the holidays.

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Queen Victoria's Christmas Tree, 1848

Queen Victoria’s Christmas tree, 1848

This colorful engraving of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert admiring their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle with four of the nine children they’d eventually have together appeared in the Illustrated London News in December 1848. Queen Victoria is known as the “grandmother of Europe” because she had so many children, many of whom had many children and married members of royal families across Europe. She’s also the mutual great-great-grandmother of both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, which is just one of the ways these two are related.

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Tatler Cover Princess Mary's Christmas Tin, Ww1, 1914

Princess Mary supports WW I soldiers at Christmas

In 1914, with World War I in full swing, Princess Mary, the daughter of King George V and his wife, Queen Mary, asked the people of Great Britain to help provide a Christmas gift to every serviceman and woman both at home and abroad. This photo on the front cover of Tatler was part of her campaign. As the first-born daughter of the King, Princess Mary was to Great Britain in 1914 what Princess Anne is to Great Britain in 2019. These nostalgic Christmas photos that will take you back a century or more.

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Queen Mary Arriving At Harrods Store London A Royal Lead To The Early Christmas Shopping Movement Was Given By The Queen Yesterday When Her Majesty Purchased Many Of Her Christmas Gifts. Mary Of Teck (victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudin
Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Queen Mary doing her Christmas shopping in 1922

The wife of King George V, Queen Mary (born Mary of Teck) opens the holiday shopping season with a visit to Harrods department store in London, where she purchased many of her Christmas gifts.

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royal family christmas photo
Len Putnam/AP/Shutterstock

A past Christmas for the Queen

King George VI and his family attended an early morning Christmas service on December 25, 1936. From left to right in the front of the photo are King George VI, Princess Elizabeth, Princess Margaret Rose, and Queen Elizabeth. This is what Queen Elizabeth II gives her staff for Christmas.

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England London Queen Elizabeth and Princess Elizabeth at Matinee, London
Eddie Worth/AP/Shutterstock

A princess and her mum see a Christmas show in 1937

In 1937, the future Queen, Princess Elizabeth, goes to a children’s Christmas show with her mum, Queen Elizabeth, the wife of King George VI and later The Queen Mother.

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December 1952 - Happy Christmas ! Princess Anne Waves Both Hands; Prince Charles Waves Only One. With The Queen And Princess Margaret They Are Driving From Buckingham Palace To King's Cross. And Outside Their Car Crowds Are Calling 'happy Christmas
Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Queen Elizabeth II’s first Christmas as Queen

Queen Elizabeth II’s first Christmas as Queen was in 1952. Here she’s pictured with two of her children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne (her two younger children, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were born later) as well as her sister, Princess Margaret (in the corner of the car window), greeting crowds who call out “Happy Christmas” greetings.

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queen elizabeth II christmas shopping

Queen Elizabeth II out shopping

Queen Elizabeth leaves Harrods Knightsbridge London after doing some Christmas shopping early in the morning in 1955. While there, she met the Duchess of Kent.

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royal family christmas photo with corgi dogs
E Allen/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Royal corgi Christmas

The Queen arrives in London with her royal corgis and her two youngest sons, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, where they spent Christmas before returning to Sandringham. This is what the royal family eats on Christmas day, according to their personal chef.

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royal family christmas service
Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Leaving Christmas service

Here the royal family is seen leaving the Christmas service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor in 1968. In the foreground of the photo, you can see Queen Elizabeth II holding the hand of her youngest son, Prince Edward while talking to her husband Prince Philip.

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Prince Of Wales & Princess Royal With Younger Royals - December 1969 Christmas Day At Windsor Castle Photographed Together For The First Time Are The Ten Royal Children Pictured On The East Terrace At Windsor Castle O Christmas Day After The Morning
Clive Limpkin/Associated Newspapers/Shutterstock

Prince Charles’s first Christmas as Prince of Wales

Prince Charles was made Prince of Wales on July 1, 1969, when he was 21 years old. Here, he’s pictured on Christmas Day of that same year at Windsor Castle with his sister, Princess Anne and ten of the younger members of the royal family, including his brothers, Prince Andrew (fourth from the right) and Prince Edward (far right).

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Diana Princess Of Wales - Alone 18th November 1981 The Princess Of Wales Arriving To Switch On The Christmas Lights In Regent Street With Barry Saunders President Of Regent Street Traders Association. ...royalty
Graham Wood/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Diana’s first Christmas as Princess of Wales

In this photo taken in late November 1981, the Princess of Wales arrives to turn on the Christmas Lights on Regent Street. Here is the true story of what really happened between Diana and Prince Charles.

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Prince William 1982 These Pictures Are A Christmas Present To The Whole Nation. They Give Us Our First Look At Prince William Now Six Months Old Since He Was Sleepily Sucking His Mother''s Finger At His Christening In August. Yesterday His Blond Hair
NPA Rota/Shutterstock

Prince William’s first Christmas

In December 1982, Diana, Princess of Wales and her six-month-old baby, Prince William, pose for the cameras for a Christmas portrait. It was the first time William was seen in public since his Christening.

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Prince Harry 1984 . 25 December 1984. Prince Harry On Television.. A Picture Taken From Bbc Tv Of The Prince And Princess Of Wales And Their Sons Prince William And Baby Prince Harry When They Appeared On The Television During The Queen''s Christmas
Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Prince Harry’s first Christmas

Prince Harry had just recently been born in this photo taken on Christmas Day 1984. He’s pictured with his older brother, Prince William, and his parents, Prince Charles and his then-wife, Diana, Princess of Wales. The photo was taken from footage of the BBC’s presentation of The Queen’s Christmas that year.

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princess diana at christmas service
Mike Forster/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Princess Diana at a Christmas service

Princess Diana attends the royal’s Christmas day service at Sandringham with her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, in 1994. You’ll also want to take a look at these rare, vintage photos of Christmases past.

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Eugenie and Beatrice with their father, Prince Andrew

This photo of the princesses, Eugenie and Beatrice, with their father, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was taken on Christmas Day 1995. The sister princesses, dressed in matching outfits, hold their dad’s hand as they make their way to services at St. Mary Magdalene near Queen Elizabeth’s Sandringham estate. Here’s are 14 things you probably don’t know about Princess Eugenie.

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David Hartley/Shutterstock

Princess Diana’s last Christmas

This photo of Diana driving herself to the Christmas Carol Concert at Eton School in 1996 has a sad backstory that became apparent only a few months later: it was the Princess of Wales’s last Christmas. She passed away in August 1997. This is how Princess Diana accidentally broke tradition during her first royal Christmas.

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Christmas Day church service, Englefield, UK - 25 Dec 2016

A Middleton family Christmas

In 2016, for the first time since they married, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrated Christmas with the Middleton family rather than joining the classic royal family Christmas plans at Sandringham. Here they’re seen with Princess Charlotte and Prince George, attending services at St. Mark’s Church in Berkshire.

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Christmas Day church service, Sandringham, Norfolk, UK - 25 Dec 2017
Alan Davidson/Shutterstock

Ms. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, 2017

In an unprecedented move, Queen Elizabeth II invited a non-royal family member to join the royal family at the Queen’s Christmas celebration at her Sandringham estate.

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Christmas Day church service, Sandringham, Norfolk, UK - 25 Dec 2017
Alan Davidson/Shutterstock

The Queen and Prince Philip

Here’s the sovereign and her husband of 70 years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on Christmas Day 2017. Here’s why we call Philip “Prince” rather than “King.”

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Queen Elizabeth II visit to Coram’s London campus, UK - 05 Dec 2018

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth is shown here with eight-year-old Shylah Gordon, attaching an ornament to a Christmas tree in early December 2018. This took place during the Queen’s visit to Coram, the children’s charity. Next, read on for 10 royal holiday traditions you’ll want to steal for yourself.