Inside the Queen’s annual pre-Christmas lunch – guest list, venue and table plan

The Queen’s traditional pre-Christmas family get-together has now been cancelled due to spiralling Covid cases. However, here we take a look at what usually goes on at this much-loved event

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Queen speaks to children at 1989 Christmas Broadcast

The Queen’s annual pre-Christmas lunch has now been cancelled for the second year in a row.

The party usually sees members of her extended family descend for her annual pre-Christmas lunch.

Most years, the Queen invites her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to join her before she departs for her annual Christmas stay.

The pre-Christmas celebration gives the head of state a chance to catch up with relatives who are unable to travel to Norfolk for Christmas Day.

Like this year, rising Covid cases has seen the event scrapped due to spiralling Covid rates throughout the country.

But what usually happens at this private, much-loved family event that has been cancelled for another year? We take a look…

The venue

The Queen usually hosts the lunch at Buckingham Palace


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The pre-Christmas lunch usually takes place around a week before Christmas – a few days before the Queen heads to Sandringham.

And the venue is usually Buckingham Palace – as family members are usually pictured arriving in their cars.

However, this year, it had been reported that the lunch was planned to take place at Windsor Castle.

But now it has been cancelled, with a source telling The Mirror it was the “right thing to do.”

The guest list

William and Kate usually attend the lunch



With only the Queen’s immediate family spending Christmas with her at Sandringham, the pre-Christmas lunch is also for her wider family.

In previous years, up to 70 guests have attended including senior royals such as Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children George, Charlotte and Louis.

The includes the Queen’s cousins – the Gloucesters, the Duke of Kent and the Michaels of Kent.

Table set-up

Mike Tindall with wife Zara


Getty Images)

In 2019, Mike Tindall, husband of the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall, gave an insight into the table set-up at the lunch on his rugby podcast.

His co-stars James Haskell and Alex Payne asked which of the seven tables he sat.

They asked: “Do you find yourself upgrading every year and getting closer to the main table or are you off out the back?

“Is there a promotion and relegation based on the year’s performance? Because if there is I imagine you’re pretty much sitting on the right-hand side of Her Majesty.”

Prince George on Christmas Day in 2019



Mike stayed quiet throughout the jokes, but later added: “I was on Prince Charles’s table, it was lovely.”

He then divulged that the royal little ones have their own table in a separate room away from the adults.

He said: “This is the family lunch, there were seven tables so there must have been about 70 of us there.

“The kiddies have their own little one in a different room.”

Covid fears

The Queen pictured yesterday with the Sultan of Oman



Earlier today, it was revealed that this year’s festive gathering would not be taking place due to a huge rise in Covid cases.

A senior palace source said: “The pre-Christmas family lunch will not be going ahead.

“The decision is a precautionary one as it is felt to put too many people’s Christmas arrangements at risk if it went ahead.

“While there is regret that it is cancelled, there is a belief it is the right thing to do for all concerned.”

The Queen is understood to be still committed to hosting her immediate family over the Christmas holidays at Sandringham, but is expected to take advice in the coming days as to whether it is safe to do so.”

Buckingham Palace did not comment.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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