Royals open presents before Christmas Day to stick to long festive tradition

For many families up and down the UK, opening Christmas presents before the big day would be a big no-no — but for the Royal Family it's part of a tradition dating back more than a century.

After being travelling up the Queen's private country estate at Sandringham House in Norfolk, members of The Firm open their gifts on Christmas Eve at around 6pm.

While opening them this early might seem strange to many, the royals have kept to this custom in line with their German heritage.

Germans traditionally open their presents late on Christmas Eve, which is regarded by many in nation as the 'main event' of the festive calendar.

The choice of celebrating in the evening over the following day is to mark the birth of Jesus Christ, who in Christian retelling of the nativity story is often depicted as having been born in the middle of the night.

Royal expert Robert Jobson revealed that the tradition dates back to when Bavarian-born Prince Albert asked that Queen Victoria adopt the practice back in the 19th century.

He told “On Christmas Eve when all the clan are together, the Queen's grandchildren and great-grandchildren put the finishing touches to the 20ft Christmas tree in the White Drawing Room.

“Presents will be opened that day at tea time as the royals still keep to the German practice of opening their gifts on Christmas Eve.

“Gifts are laid out in the Red Drawing Room on a white linen-covered trestle table, with cards marking exactly where the piles of gifts should be put.”

Queen Elizabeth II is descended from George I, who was the Elector of Hannover before becoming the King of Great Britain and Ireland in the 18th century.

In later history her family name still had a decidedly German feel, only being changed from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor when the UK fought the nation in the First World War.

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