The King has begun his first Christmas holiday at Sandringham as monarch after making a donation to a charity providing relief to people in fuel poverty. The royal standard is flying above the Norfolk estate where Charles and the Queen Consort will celebrate Christmas Day with members of their family, marking a return to traditional royal festivities.
The Fuel Bank Foundation said financial donations, sent to the King in condolence cards after the death of the late Queen, have been passed on to the charity along with an undisclosed donation from Charles via the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund. Matthew Cole, head of the foundation, said: “We are extremely grateful for the kind and generous donation from His Majesty the King. The money will be used to help keep vulnerable people warm this winter, offering some physical and mental respite from the challenges posed by the energy and cost-of-living crisis.”
The charity provides emergency help to people living without heat, light and power in their homes because they cannot afford to top up prepayment gas or electricity meters. It will be the first time the royal family has spent Christmas at Sandringham since 2019 and will be a poignant period after the death of the Queen in September.
The Prince and Princess of Wales and their children are expected to join the King and his wife, alongside the Princess Royal and her family and the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children. The Duke of York and his former wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, are understood to be on the estate but it is not known if Andrew – whose reputations was left in tatters by a civil sex case he settled out of court – will make a public appearance.
During the Covid pandemic, the late Queen spent the festive period at Windsor Castle, separated from her wider family during lockdown, for two years in a row – the first with the Duke of Edinburgh. Royal Christmases feature a morning trip to St Mary Magdalene Church, the greeting of well-wishers, and a family lunch with turkey and all the trimmings.
Charles has pre-recorded his first Christmas broadcast as monarch, which is likely to reflect on the loss of his mother and her legacy. Traditionally, members of the royal family sit down to watch the televised address when it airs after lunch, usually at 3pm.
Sandringham House has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs for more than 160 years, and now belongs to the King. The late Queen celebrated the eve of her Platinum Jubilee there seven months before her death.
It was bought in 1862 by the then Prince of Wales, who later became Edward VII, as a private country retreat. George V, the Queen’s grandfather, described the house as “Dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world”.