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hristmas at Sandringham has remained virtually unchanged for 100 years, as confirmed by the diary of Nikolai Ramm Østgaard, a Norwegian royal courtier. The officer travelled to Norfolk with Crown Prince Olav, who was visiting his mother, Queen Maud, for Christmas 1919. Excerpts from the unpublished diary, which we feature this month, provide a first-hand account of the festivities as they were then. The shooting parties are smaller now and the entertainment much less lavish, but as a nod to their forebears the royal family still open their presents on Christmas Eve. The gifts are put on display in order of precedence on long refectory tables covered with a linen cloth, just as they used to be, but unlike 1919 they are not expected to be extravagant. When the Duchess of Cambridge presented the Queen with her homemade jam one year it was as welcome as if it had been a precious jewel. Her Majesty normally departs for Norfolk by scheduled train a day or two after her pre-Christmas lunch for the extended family – young and old – at Buckingham Palace. It was sad to watch the Duke and Duchess of Sussex unburden themselves to ITN reporter Tom Bradby in his programme about their South African tour. Bradby is a friend, but it is telling that they felt they couldn’t confide in a family member instead. As I have said many times, Harry still believes the press are responsible for the death of his mother and he is having problems managing the stress and anxiety that come from fearing for Meghan too. Bradby described the Prince as ‘incredibly tired and burnt out’, and found the couple ‘bruised and vulnerable’ as they struggle to build the kind of royal life they want in such an intense spotlight. Not surprisingly, their remarks in the documentary caused a media storm of differing opinions, but the Duke and Duchess’s continued success in harnessing their gifts of empathy and compassion is important to the Queen and the monarchy as a whole. Unusually for a member of staff, albeit it one of her most trusted confidantes, Her Majesty’s senior dresser and personal assistant Angela Kelly has been allowed to publish a book full of charming anecdotes and fascinating facts about the Queen and her wardrobe. The two socially diverse women have known each other for more than 25 years, and because the monarch has always treated her close staff as family she is anxious to look after them. By allowing Angela to pen her personal missive: The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe she is doing just that. One of the facts that Angela reveals is that the Queen will in future be using fake fur in new outfits as opposed to the real thing. This doesn’t mean she is getting rid of her vintage furs and ermine-lined robes of state, just that she will substitute fake fur when necessary. On behalf of everyone at Majesty I should like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

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