The thrifty way Princess Margaret saved money when gifting Christmas presents

The late Princess was an expert in thrifty gifting...

princess margaret in peacock feather hat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The late Princess Margaret used to gift her own used handbags at Christmas, according to her former lady-in-waiting.


Lady Anne, now 90, began working for Queen Elizabeth II's younger sister at the age of 39 and has revealed that Margaret was very thoughtful when it came to giving presents.

She told The Telegraph (opens in new tab), "She loved visiting antique shops and gave me several pieces I had admired while out shopping with her, including a Victorian egg set with white and gold antique egg cups slotted into a ceramic tray."

But she added that while she was very considerate with her presents, sometimes she would gift her hand-me-downs. Lady Anne explained, "Though she went to a lot of trouble, you never quite knew what you were going to receive. Sometimes we'd be given handbags that had clearly been worn by her. I received one that I'd seen her use, but actually that was rather special, having one of her own bags."

Princess Margaret

(Image credit: Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images)

And while many would expect the royal family to be extravagant when it comes to buying presents, Lady Anne has revealed that this is far from the case.

"I've never been there when the Royal family themselves exchanged presents but I know that they're quite simple or jokey things – never terribly expensive," she said.

Last year, it was revealed that Queen Elizabeth gifted all her staff an £8 Christmas pudding, and it was previously reported how Prince William once bought his grandmother a pair of slippers with her face emblazoned on them.

And Kate Middleton once revealed that she gifted the Queen some homemade chutney when she went to Sandringham for Christmas for the first time - and the Queen is thought to have loved it.

Princess Margaret's Cartier flower brooch was worn for both day and evening occasions

(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Royal expert Duncan Larcombe revealed, “A homemade chutney gift was absolutely spot on - down to earth, practical and frugal - everything Her Majesty loves. 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.”

In another unusual tradition - though for the royals it is standard - it was also revealed this week why King Charles III will open his presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. 

The reason dates back centuries, and relates to the German heritage of the Royal Family. Heiligabend Bescherung is the term for why, but essentially it’s just a German term for the day they swap presents, which is December 24.

The royals have been doing this for nearly two centuries, going back to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Robyn is a celebrity and entertainment journalist and editor with over eight years experience in the industry. As well as contributing regular to woman&home, she also often writes for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Weekly and The Sun.