At the end of the month it will be Christmas again. As usual I will spend it at my parent's house and hope I'll finally be able to read a few books I bought over the past few months. Since a few years I have a nice Christmas tree at my own home decorated in red and silver and I always try to keep it inside the house as long as possible as it looks so great. I also decorate the window of my living room and try not to forget to burn candles and play cds with Christmas music. Over the past years I often paid a visit to Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn between Christmas and New Year, when the palace is in full Christmas sphere with laid tables, trees, candles and the smell of spices (oranges, cinnamon). The past two years it was even snowing outside. The palace is always worth a visit, but with Christmas it looks extra beautiful.
Magazines always have pictures of happy royal families in front of a Christmas tree or with decorations, although I always wonder if they really show how the families celebrate. But of course pictures of the real private Christmas celebrations of the royals are rare. Mostly the photos are taken some days before the real holidays as of course the royals also want to celebrate Christmas in peace without the press hanging around. I always like the Norwegian pictures that show the royal family at Kongsseteren, the family's 'log-cabin' near Oslo. The family usually attends the mass at the nearby Holmenkollen Chapel and then has Christmas food and unpacks the presents. Norway is also responsible for the big Christmas trees in cities as London, Berlin and New York and often a member of the family will light the tree in London some weeks before. Not seldom will you also see one of them shopping at the Christmas fair at the Norwegian Sailor's Church in London.
You might also find Queen Margrethe II of Denmark in London buying presents and visiting her sister Anne-Marie. With Christmas she loves to have her family around and likes to make lots of sphere. So there are Christmas trees in the palace everywhere as well as on the square in the middle of the four parts Amalienborg in Copenhagen. Sometimes the queen even makes decoration herself, not only for trees but also for the table. The British royal family comes together at the Sandringham estate and also pays a visit to the mass at church whereafter the presents are given.
In the Netherlands it was Queen Emma who introduced a Christmas party for children of the staff at the end of the 19th century, a tradition that stayed under Queen Wilhelmina and Queen Juliana, but that was abolished by Queen Beatrix in 1981. The family celebrates quietly at home nowadays and pays a visit to church. In Belgium the traditional children's Christmas concert at the royal palace in Brussels is always attended by members of the royal family and is broadcasted live on Belgian television. I think the princely family of Monaco is the only family that does some Christmas charity. Princess Grace introduced a children's party at the princely palace soon after her marriage with presence of the princely family itself. Also children in hospital can always look forward to a visit of one of the princesses.
There are a few royals who celebrate their birthday with Christmas. In Great Britain Princess Alexandra of Kent will celebrate her 66th birthday on December 25, while the little Cassius Taylor, grandson of her brother the Duke of Kent, will celebrate his 6th birthday one day later. And also on December 25 Prince Bernhard van Oranje-Nassau van Vollenhoven celebrates his 33rd birthday, his first one as a father as he and his wife Annette had a daughter, Isabella, in May.
Wishing you great holidays and a happy 2003!