The royal family’s Christmas lunch is back!
Dopo essere annullato the previous two years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the royals gathered on Tuesday for an annual pre-Christmas event. Although the lunch was normally held at Buckingham Palace in London, members of the family were spotted driving into Windsor Castle for the event, which is a private gathering.
Other family members seen driving onto the castle grounds included Charles’ siblings Princess Anne (con suo marito, Sir Tim Laurence) and Prince Edward (con sua moglie, Sofia, Contessa di Wessex, e la loro figlia, Lady Louise). Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara, arrived with her husband, Mike Tindall, who took the wheel as the couple’s children were spotted in the backseat of the vehicle.
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were in attendance, along with the Duke of Kent.
Not seen driving were Charles’ figlio principe William and daughter-in-law Kate Middleton along with their three children, Il principe George, Principessa Charlotte e il principe luigi. But that’s likely because it was a short commute for the Prince and Princess of Wales — earlier this year, they moved to Adelaide Cottage on the Windsor Castle grounds.
After two years of celebrating the holidays largely separated, Christmas for the British royal family will return to normality this year — complete with gathering at Sandringham, exchanging gag gifts on Christmas Eve and walking to church on Christmas morning. però, they will be missing their matriarch, regina Elisabetta.
“It will be hard, as the Queen was all they knew, like most of Britain,” a former palace staffer tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.
The staffer adds, “The first year is most difficult, as it is always the first of everything that you notice.”
“This carol service is dedicated to Her Majesty regina Elisabetta II, and to all those who are sadly no longer with us. Her Late Majesty’s strongly held values of duty, compassion and faith have guided the creation of this service,” a message inside the program for Canti reali: Insieme a Natale disse.
Nonostante regina Elisabettaè l'assenza, they’ll be surrounded by reminders of the history-making monarch at her beloved country estate in Norfolk for the holiday.
“Charles has always been very, very fond of Sandringham,” royal biographer Ingrid Seward tells PEOPLE. “Christmas within any family is always about tradition. He will keep it the same as it ever was.”
And Queen Camilla will be “a real presence,” says Seward, in hosting the festivities, despite leaving to spend time with her own children and grandchildren in years past.
“She can’t have him hosting his first Christmas on his own,” Seward adds.