The countdown until Christmas has officially begun and for the Royal Family they love nothing more than keeping traditions on the big day.

Unsurprisingly the festive period for the famous family comes with some strict rules to ensure everything runs smoothly and everyone – from Prince Philip to Princess Charlotte – is kept happy.

This year, it will be Meghan’s second Christmas at Sandringham House, the Queen’s country estate in Norfolk, but her first as Prince Harry’s wife – and as an expectant mum, so they’ll be no sipping cherry under the mistletoe for the duchess.

As we previously reported, the Queen loves nothing more than a cocktail called the Zaza, made from Dubonnet and gin.

Prince Charles prefers cherry brandy, and William and Harry both enjoy a pint of Sandringham cider, made from apple trees planted by the Queen’s father King George VI.

And while Christmas naps are custom in a lot of households to sleep off the booze, there is no sneaking in forty winks for the Royal Family – instead there is a bedtime ‘rule’.

The family are said to play charades until midnight, with nobody permitted to go to bed until Her Majesty retires.

So no matter how tired one is, they must stay awake until the Queen decides she’s had enough.

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Meanwhile, their Christmas lunch starts at 1.15pm with a starter of salad with shrimp or lobster, followed by roasted turkey with traditional sides like parsnips, Brussels sprouts and carrots, then Christmas pudding with brandy butter for dessert.

Menus are all in French and the family eat from blue and white Copeland dinner service and drink from crystal stemware engraved with EIIR.

As is tradition, just before the family tuck in, the senior chef goes into the dining room and carves the rib roast of turkey, after which the Queen presents him with a glass of whiskey and they toast – the only time in the year that the chef joins the royals in the dining room.

Meanwhile, The Queen has three strict rules when the Royal Family open Christmas presents.

And there is a heartbreaking reason the Queen doesn’t take down Christmas decorations until February.

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