Kate Middleton’s ‘frugal’ first Christmas gift to Queen Elizabeth proved that risks can pay off

Kate Middleton's 'frugal' first Christmas gift to the Queen might be a surprising choice but it apparently helped 'forge a bond'...

Kate Middleton's 'frugal' first Christmas gift revealed. Seen here are Queen Elizabeth II and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge watch a fashion show
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Kate Middleton’s “frugal” first Christmas gift to Queen Elizabeth proved that risks can often pay off as it’s said her unusual choice was “absolutely spot on”. 

Royal Christmases mean plenty of special customs - from the royal Christmas tradition that honors their German heritage to their walk to Church on Christmas Day. And when it comes to gifts it’s understood that the Royal Family likes to keep things simple, often opting for funny or low-key presents for each other. This is something that the now-Princess of Wales took to heart when she spent Christmas at Sandringham for the first time. 

Kate Middleton’s “frugal” first Christmas gift to the Queen was something she feared would go “horribly wrong”, but it proved that risks can sometimes pay off…

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry walk to church

(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

In 2011, nine months after Prince William and Kate’s wedding, she enjoyed her first royal Christmas in Norfolk and is said to have declined an invitation to Christmas lunch until they were married. This was a royal Christmas tradition Meghan Markle was allowed to break when she went to Sandringham a month after getting engaged to Prince Harry, though Kate never did. 

The pressure was on for Kate to choose the right gift for the Queen and royal expert Duncan Larcombe previously told OK!’s Kate at 40 special that her homemade chutney was “spot on”. 

“A homemade chutney gift was absolutely spot on - down to earth, practical and frugal - everything Her Majesty loves,” he said. “But it also showed that Kate could relate to the Queen as a normal grandmother and not just the head of state. And it helped forge a bond built on mutual respect and admiration.”

Queen Elizabeth II and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the Christmas Day service

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According to him, Kate Middleton’s “frugal” first Christmas gift helped their personal connection to develop and highlighted her personal side. It was also a risky choice as the Princess of Wales told ITV’s Our Queen at Ninety documentary that she’d “worried” what to get her. 

Kate explained, “I can remember being at Sandringham, for the first time, at Christmas. And I was worried what to give the Queen as her Christmas present. I was thinking, 'Gosh, what should I give her?’ I thought back to what I would give my own grandparents. And I thought, 'I'll make her something.' Which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny's recipe of chutney.’” 

The Princess of Wales recalled how the Queen’s response to the homemade gift cemented her respect for her. 

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Elizabeth II attend Vernon Park

(Image credit: Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

"I noticed the next day that it was on the table. I think such a simple gesture went such a long way for me and I’ve noticed since she’s done that on lots of occasions,” she said. 

Since she handed over this “frugal” first Christmas present, Kate has spent many festive seasons in Norfolk. Though it’s not confirmed that she and Prince William will do so again in 2022, this year will mark the first Christmas since losing the Queen. Wherever they spend the big day, it’s possible they will reflect upon her remarkable life and legacy. 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with seven years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.