King Charles III begins Christmas at Windsor as royals arrive for first festive lunch without the Queen

The Royal Family has gathered at Windsor Castle to enjoy a Christmas lunch before they head to Sandringham later this week

King Charles III begins Christmas at Windsor as royals arrive for first festive lunch without the Queen
(Image credit: Getty)

King Charles III has welcomed the Royal Family to Windsor for lunch ahead of Christmas at Sandringham, marking his first time hosting the festive event as monarch. 

The Royal Family has gathered together at Windsor Castle for a festive lunch ahead of their traditional Christmas trip to Sandringham, according to reports. 

King Charles III is hosting the special event at the Berkshire property for the first time, after succeeding his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in September. 

It's understood that the monarch and his wife, Camilla, the Queen Consort, arrived at Windsor separately, having likely driven to the sprawling estate from either Highgrove House in Gloucestershire or Clarence House in London. 

They have been joined by Prince William and Kate Middleton, who moved to the nearby Adelaide Cottage last summer, and the couple's three children, Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 8, and four-year-old Prince Louis. 

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visit Cardiff Castle

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Princess Anne and her husband, Sir Tim Laurence, have made the trip from Gatcombe Park, while Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex have traveled up from Bagshot Park with their nineteen-year-old daughter, Lady Louise Windsor. 

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex visit Forfar Golf Club

Sophie Wessex with Prince Edward

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Mike and Zara Tindall were also spotted driving into the grounds of Windsor Castle with their three children, Mia, 8, Lena, 3, and one-year-old Lucas. It's understood that the Royal Family will enjoy a traditional Christmas lunch at the Queen's former home before heading to Sandringham in Norfolk for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. 

Queen Elizabeth II had historically held the holiday lunch at Buckingham Palace, but the event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It's expected that the royals will make up for lost time at this year's feast, which will likely include traditional Christmas foods like turkey, roast potatoes, and pudding. The absence of Her Majesty, however, is unlikely to go unnoticed. The Queen made history as Britain's longest-ever serving monarch, celebrating her Platinum Jubilee just a few months before her death at the age of 96. 

Queen Elizabeth II reads the Queen's Speech from the throne during State Opening of Parliament

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"It will be hard, as the Queen was all they knew, like most of Britain," a former palace employee told PEOPLE. "The first year is most difficult, as it is always the first of everything that you notice."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will not visit England for Christmas this year, despite having reportedly been invited to Sandringham by the King. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will instead spend their third Christmas in a row in California, where they will be joined by their two children, Archie, 3, and one-year-old Lilibet. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.