Princess Diana’s gift that fell foul of ‘golden rule’ during first Christmas with royals

For new members of The Firm, it must be a daunting task to sort out Christmas shopping for your first festive period with the family – and while newlywed Princess Diana’s present buying was thoughtful, she forgot one key rule

Princess Diana
Princess Diana wasn’t aware of the golden rule during her first Christmas with the royals

It’s well known that the Royal Family prefer not to lavish each other with expensive, ostentatious gifts at Christmas time – instead preferring to give lighthearted joke presents.

Due to the fact they descend from Germanic roots, they also adopt traditions the rest of us in the UK might not recognise – like exchanging the goodies on Christmas Eve, rather than the big day.

It’s thought that on Christmas Eve, each member of the family creeps downstairs during the afternoon to lay out their gifts, eagerly awaiting 6pm when the unwrapping begins.

Before the exchange starts, each person’s gifts are cornered off in a specific pile before they’re opened.

For decades, the unwrapping was always overseen by Prince Philip, who would give the go-ahead for someone to tear into their gift.

This will be The Queen’s first Christmas without Prince Philip


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After the Duke of Edinburgh’s death at the age of 99 in April, the baton will be passed on to another member this year – although it’s unclear who that will be.

With lots of traditions to take on board, it must be a daunting experience as a newer royal to join in with the family’s festivities for the first time.

And any new member would hope the joke gifts they bring to the table would be a huge success.

Some of the more memorable gifts exchanged over the years have included a bath hat given to the Queen by her grandson Prince Harry that read: ‘Ain’t life a b*tch’.

Kate Middleton made a witty quip to her brother-in-law Harry one Christmas when she bought him a grow-your-own-girlfriend kit – after he’d made headlines with a string of high-profile romances.

Diana got to grips with the rule during her second Christmas with the family, with a great joke gift for Fergie



One year, Princess Anne gifted her big brother Prince Charles a white leather toilet seat to celebrate the festive period – although he’s thought to be so fond of it, he now takes it on overseas tours.

However, as a newlywed in 1981, Princess Diana missed the ‘cheap and cheerful’ memo during her first Christmas with the royals – and handed Anne a thoughtfully-purchased cashmere sweater.

In return, Anne gave her a loo roll holder.

But Diana wasn’t to be fooled two years in a row, and made sure she lived up to the joke gift rule the following year when she bought sister-in-law Fergie a leopard print bath mat.

One partner who hit the nail on the head with the rule during her first Christmas with the family was Meghan Markle, who gave The Queen an unusual gift.

A source told The Daily Star: “Meghan bought a little hamster that sings with a little rope for Her Majesty.

“It was so funny, especially when the corgis tried to take hold of the toy.”

This year the Queen will be hosting Christmas at The Sandringham Estate in Norfolk after the family had to spend the festive season apart last year.

It will be her first Christmas without her beloved husband Prince Philip, and will follow several months of concern about her own health, but she’s said to be in high spirits and looking forward to the day.

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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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