My Afternoon With Paul Burrell

On Wednesday, this week I had the absolute pleasure of heading to the Palazzo Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast for a charity fundraiser high tea which was also attended by a very special guest speaker, Paul Burrell, former butler to the late Princess Diana. A controversial figure within Royal watching circles, whilst I understand he is not everybody’s cup of tea, he did show me how to pour the perfect cup in case I ever have the pleasure of hosting her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II for tea.

The high tea was in support of Young care, an organisation which helps young people with high assisted living needs exit or avoid admissions to aged care facilities.

There were two events on the day. The Royal afternoon tea and conversation with Paul Burrell was the main event however prior to that there was a VIP event for only 12 people which I attended.
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Nervously ushered into an elevator we had no idea where we were going until we ended up in Paul’s very own room, the hotels Imperial suite, a luxurious three-room suite which boosts possibly the best view on the Gold Coast. With mellow music coming from a guitar player/singer in the corner and Versace staff circulating with trays of champagne and cucumber finger sandwiches, Paul Burrell emerged into the lounge. Just as synonymous with Diana to me as her ‘boys’ Princes William and Harry, Kensington Palace or that pearl and sapphire choker, it is quite a thrill when he appears, almost like catching up with an old friend as his image is so familiar. The presence of Diana lingers around him, almost to the point you expect her to pop through the door at any second.

Much like a cocktail party on an episode of the Bachelor, everyone breaks off into small groups where we wait for our own private ten minutes with him where we can take a photo, have him sign a copy of his bestselling biography ‘A royal duty’ and ask a few questions each.
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My first impressions of Paul Burrell, he has a smile which is larger than life, he radiates warmth and personality, he is slightly embarrassed when you ask him for a hug but always obliging, he is skilled at putting people at ease and calming their nerves, he effortlessly drawers you into conversation. His sunny disposition and megawatt smile are what directly led to him getting the job as the Queens personal footman after only two years of service at Buckingham Palace. That and an uncanny knack at being effortlessly able to pinpoint someone’s needs and fulfil them before they ask. Summoned to see the Queen from the breakfast table one morning as she was interested in the ‘footman who always smiles so much’ he thought the only thing a footman could be summoned for at this time of the day was to walk the Queens beloved corgis. Slipping 2 sausages in his back pocket he went to see the Queen. ‘Would you like to walk my Corgis?’ she asked, ‘of course’ he replied. Out in the gardens of Buckingham Palace the Queen peeked through the curtains as her 8 corgis, normally terrors to control were enthralled and chasing down the footman, or his two sausages at least. Upon his return, the Queen commented ‘They do seem to love you, I think I will keep you’ and promoted he was to be one of two of the Queens personal footman.

In a world where we are so used to seeing commentary from friends and family of Diana’s or the Royals being split firmly in two different camps and loathing the other side, it is surprising to see someone talk about both the Queen and Princess Diana with the same love and affection. But he does. Possibly the only member of Diana’s camp who didn’t want to cheer during Charles Spencer’s eulogy inside Westminster Abbey, he wanted to tell people to stop clapping, to look at the Queen, that the Queen was heartbroken. Always respectful of the entire Royal family he cannot be baited to speak poorly of even Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. When asked of his opinion of Camilla and Charles’s relationship he simply replies, ‘I can never speak warmly of Camilla, I am Diana’s man, she was not my mistress, she was somebody else’s mistress, Diana was my mistress and it is with her my love and loyalty will always lie’. In fact, I kind of get the feeling that he wishes people would stop mentioning both Camilla and Diana in the sentence. That he does not want Camilla to become as synonymous with Diana as her boys, Kensington Palace and her style. That he hopes when we focus our discussion on Diana we will focus on her legacy, her charity work, the way she changed the Royals and the world, her sons and grandchildren and not be fixated on the parts of her life which brought such pain and heartache.
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It is surprising how little gossip and scandal he does discuss. When he talks of Diana he discusses their friendship, her charity work, her love for her sons all peppered with personal memories of their day to day interactions with one another. Topics such as previous lovers including Hasnat Khan and Dodi Al Fayed, preparing for her funeral, her divorce with Charles only come up when he is asked directly and ask him we do constantly. When asked if he wishes that Diana had never married Charles he replies it is impossible ‘it was Diana’s destiny to marry Charles, to have those two boys, to change the monarchy and the world today, to pave the way and go through the hardships she did to create a better life for her boys and grandchildren, it was her destiny’.
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Ushered from the private event to the foyer outside the ballroom for the afternoon tea we are greeted by doorman dressed as Queen guards and trumpeters announce the event officially open. Walking into the ballroom we are greeted with candle light and over 5000 flowers, mostly roses in tribute to England’s rose. My own outfit, a dress from Australian brand Review, covered in a rose pattern blends in with the décor.
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After some on stage introductions Paul joins our table for a traditional afternoon, the menu includes delights such as English cucumber finger sandwiches, candied lemon and sultana scones served with balsamic strawberry jam with cream, guava and passionfruit mousse and finishes with a chocolate dome etiquette smash, so called as it contains a small take home guide book on etiquette.


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Halfway through the tea Paul takes to the stage for an hour presentation where he talks of his life pre-Royals, how he was studying a hospitality and hotel management course and dreamed of working at sea with Cunard cruise line. He applied to Cunard at the same time he applied at Buckingham Palace. In a secret, he only found out from his younger brother on the day of his mother’s funeral, his mother had received two letters on the same day, one from Cunard and one from Buckingham palace, both offering him employment. She took the letter from Cunard and tossed it on the fire telling his younger brother that if he went far away to sea they would never see him again. It seems just as much as he believes it was Diana’s destiny to marry into and change the Royal family and touch people the world over by becoming ‘the people’s princess’ it was just as much his destiny to enter a life service with the Royals and to be there for Diana, the princess needed her rock. He talks of her work, their trips overseas, her joy at connecting with the common people and making a real difference on issues such as land mines, her legacy of her sons and grandchildren. Through William, he feels the Monarchy is in safe hands and will flourish in the future. He advises he has no inside special knowledge but he sees Harry being happy in a way he hasn’t seen since before his mother’s death and he predicts another Royal wedding next year. I’m sure we all have our fingers crossed for that one! He addresses the charges of theft of Diana’s personal items and the intervention by the Queen which stopped the trial, the only time the Queen has intervened in such a legal matter. He says his favorite memory is of Diana, in her robe, her hair in a towel, playing her piano, finally having a moment to live her life like she doesn’t have cameras pointed on her at every second.

What did I learn most from my afternoon with Paul Burrell? A little kindness goes a long way, life is precious and can change at any second, a sunny disposition and a smile can get you far in life and the importance of a thank you note, in fact I am off to write one now.

Kylie XOXO

A Closer Look At The Heads Together Campaign & My Own #oktosay

If you are a regular follower of mine, you will be aware that I am a big supporter of the Duchess of Cambridge. I love her fashion, regularly purchase some wonderful British products that she has been associated with, such as Emma Bridgewater and Jo Malone, that I would not have heard of without her association and I like to think that I support her causes and work. Of course, I have heard of the Heads Together campaign, when the surprise video came out announcing that it was this year’s partnership charity with the London marathon I watched it, I loved the informality of the video and rushed to the J Crew website to buy my own breton sweater as Kate had worn in it. I knew the campaign had something to do with mental health. For the next twelve months, I eagerly awaited each appearance associated with the campaign by the Royals. However, it was not until well after the marathon had actually commenced that I had a real understanding of what the campaign was actually about. For today’s post, I am going to be taking a much closer look at the campaign and share my own personal #itsoktosay

Whilst I have come a bit late to party on this important campaign, the hard work that William, Kate and Harry have done in promoting the cause for the last year will be wasted if we all move onto the next issue and stopped having the conversation!

The Heads Together Campaign is the biggest project that Kate has tackled so far. She has spent the last year, along with Princes William and Harry spearheading the campaign to end the stigma surrounding mental health. The campaign brought together key charities from the trios work in areas such as homelessness, veterans and addiction, such as place2be, the Anna Freud center and contact.

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The aim of the campaign was to change the national conversation on mental health and well being so we could all feel confident speaking up if we had any issues, without the fear of being stigmatised by admitting we had problems. Through a video made for the campaign and William and Kate’s recent radio interview with BBC1, we have had an unusually personal glimpse into the lives of Royals with Kate admitting she had a difficult time adjusting after the birth of Prince George and William and Harry opening up about the death of their mother, Princess Diana and how, despite the close relationship between the two, they did not talk to each other or support each other enough.

The #itsoktosay was created as a way for people to join in on the conversation surrounding mental health, by either sharing the videos and press releases from the Heads Together campaign or by encouraging their friends to reach out if they had issues or to use it reach out to others with their own issues when they weren’t sure how to start the conversation.

Which brings me to an important issue I would like to discuss which is online bullying. I don’t think there has been any replikater who has posted pictures of themselves in a replikate outfit who at one time or the other has not been targeted by trolls who want to criticise the person’s weight, their lack of own personal style or chastise them for what they see as a frivolous use of money.

At least twice a week I find myself targeted by online trolls who want to tell me I’m fat or would need to spend a million dollars on plastic surgery to come close to looking like Kate. Even the back handed compliment has come up a few times such as ‘you could be so pretty if you lost weight so why don’t you’. For the record, I know that I am overweight and should lose weight for health reasons, I have a long history of unhealthy yo yo dieting. I also don’t believe I look like Kate but I am highly influenced by her style and wearing an outfit, whether inspired by or directly copied from her gives me a confidence boost and makes me feel special and pretty so what’s the harm in that? I have turned down multiple online media opportunities in the past as I know the criticism will be mainly around my weight. I think its sad that I have let these online bullies influence my decisions in this way for what should be happy and exciting moments.

Whilst I am sure there are people who will feel that I have brought this criticism onto myself by posting a picture of myself side by side with Kate, it is the only way that a lot of us can reach out to find other replikaters or people who share our greater Royal obsession as I can’t think of many who have family and friends outside of the online community who support, encourage and understand our obsessions. Posting our replikates is a way to connect with others so we don’t feel alone, another important aspect in promoting good mental health.

I have also been criticised by one of the major Kate accounts for deleting derogatory comments and blocking the people who leave them. If someone came to your front door right now and started to call you fat or make other derogatory comments, what would you do? You wouldn’t invite them into your home, you would ask them to leave and if they didn’t you’d most likely feel threatened enough that you would call the police. Online bullying is such a problem as there is no escape from it, you essentially invite every bully into your home, your own private space, so I don’t feel there is any harm with deleting or blocking the people who are leaving personal and degrading comments. If you find yourself the target, you don’t want to constantly be seeing the degrading comment or giving that person the opportunity to come back and try to make you feel bad about yourself again so we should all encourage and support each other to block the culprits and even report people for their online bullying behavior.

The bullying has at times been so bad that I have considered shutting down both my blog and Instagram accounts and more than once I have been upset enough that I have stress eaten excessive amounts of sugar, which isn’t helping the weight issue the trolls take so much pleasure in pointing out that I need to do something about but on the flip side I have meet some great women who support and encourage each and inspire me to be completely myself. I would hate to think I wouldn’t be there to encourage or support a new Replikater who was going through the same issues as I had let the trolls intimidate me into shutting down my accounts or making them private. Please remember if you do find yourself a target in the future, the bullying says a lot more about the person making the comment then it does about you.

I have found this post quite difficult to write and I hope that by sharing the experience I have encouraged those going through similar issues to speak out and stand up for themselves and to start their own #itsoktosay conversation

The Royal Week In Review

Starting with the most recent Royal appearance, yesterday saw Catherine, William and Harry along with other senior Royals including the Queen attend an unveiling of a new memorial dedicated to Britons who had served in Afghanistan or Iraq during 1990-2015. During that time 680 Britons on active service in these areas lost their lives however the memorial is designed to celebrate the sacrifice made by all personnel who put themselves in harm’s way to bring peace and stability to the area.

Kate wore a Michael Kors coat we are all familiar with, having seen it previously during the Anzac day service William and Kate attended at the Australian War memorial in Canberra during their Royal tour to Australia and New Zealand and in 2014 when she officially opened the Magic garden at Hampton court palace.

Kate also repeated many of her accessories, wearing her tanzanite earing and pendent set from G Collins and sons that we have previously seen on multiple occasions, including when the Royal trio hosted the Obamas for dinner at Kensington palace and her trusty muse clutch and Rupert Sanderson navy suede Malory heels.

The fashion stand out piece within this outfit was by far the new Lock and co Tiffany drop brim hat that Kate debuted. Inspired by the infamous black drop brim hat with white ribbon that Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the hat oozes sophistication and glamour and was perfect for the occasion. Costing 325 pounds the hat is still available here;

http://www.lockhatters.co.uk/tiffany-drop-brim-hat.html

I have a military themed day event to attend in May which I think this hat would be perfect for and have been frantically searching for the perfect replikate so you if you have found something similar please drop me a line.

This week was all about Rebecca

It’s not often that another member of the Royal family can completely dominate the headlines over Kate, so the fact that this week, a member of Royal staff completely dominated most of the news stories shows what a valuable and indispensable asset to Kate she was.

The week started with the happy announcement that Kate’s private secretary, Rebecca Deacon, or Becca, as she is affectionately known amongst her family and friends, is soon to wed her partner Adam Priestly. Becca has been given the honor of being able to use the chapel royal at Kensington palace, which Royal watchers will remember from Prince Georges christening, however has been used for many key Royal occasions dating back to King Henry VIII.

Later in the week came the sad announcement that Becca will be stepping down from her role at the end of the summer after 10 years of service to the Royal family. No doubt the heavy workload and irregular hours, though rewarding, make maintaining a personal life difficult. It will be quite unusual to see Kate at appearances for quite a while without Rebecca at her side but I am sure everyone wishes her much happiness and success in the future.

Updates to Kate’s calendar

In exciting news for our readers from Germany and Poland, it has been announced that the Royals will be touring the area in July at the request of the British Foreign secretary to ‘extend the hand of friendship’ and ensure strong relationships between the nations continue post Brexit. This will be Williams second trip to Germany since the Brexit referendum. In a speech he gave during the first trip he stated ‘the depth of Britain’s friendship will not change after Brexit’. Kate has not yet formally travelled to either country.

Whilst it was widely assumed that both William and Kate would not be attending the st Patrick’s day Irish guard parade to hand out shamrocks as the date coincided with the first day of their mini tour to Paris, it has been formally announced that they will be in attendance. It appears they will then travel to Paris so I wouldn’t expect to see many events on their first day in Paris outside of a formal welcome and a possible black tie function that evening. Details will be confirmed as they become available which shouldn’t be to far away as the tour commences on friday. At this point there are no appearances scheduled til friday.

 

 

 

 

My Royal Wedding Memorabilia

Earlier this week I posted on Instagram a really lovely gift that I had received from a follower, a copy of the official Royal wedding program from Will and Kate’s big day. Since then I have been flooded with requests for looks inside and it appears many people have missed out on seeing the ‘my story’ snaps I added to Instagram so I will be adding pictures of each page at the bottom of this post. First though, lets take a look at my other Royal wedding memorabilia.

William and Catherine Figurines, Hamilton Collection

These wonderful fashion figurines are part of the Hamilton collection which was sold via the Bradford exchange. They have a whole range of fashion figurines featuring Kate pre wedding, in gowns post wedding and with a baby George. Unfortunately no figurine has been made with charlotte. Whilst the figurines are no longer sold directly from Bradford exchange, they are constantly popping up on Ebay so keep an eye out there if you are interested in starting your own collection of Kate figurines.

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Royal Wedding Fashion Illustration

I am a huge fan of fashion illustration in general and love the work of Brittany from Replikate It. Keep an eye on her Etsy store around special occasions such as Royal tours and you usually find new art work pop up for sale. I’m not sure what she has planned yet but she told me she is in the process of working on something special for the 20th anniversary of Diana this year.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/RepliKateIt

Royal Wedding Earrings

My lovely copy of the custom-made acorn earrings that were gifted to Kate on her wedding day by her parents were bought on my trip to London a little over a year ago from the Kensington Palace gift shop. They are the loveliest copy of these earrings I have come across and can be bought directly from the Historic Royal Palaces shops at Kensington Palace or the Tower of London or purchased online here; http://www.historicroyalpalaces.com/acorn-drop-earrings.html

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Illuminum White Gardenia Petals Perfume

The perfume that Kate wore on her wedding day has proved to be the single most difficult Replikate for me to get my hands on as it is not in stock or shipped to Australia. I was able to purchase a small bottle on Christmas eve from Fortnum and Mason department store and was extremely lucky as it was the last bottle they had in stock. I had hoped to purchase 1-2 of the large bottles. I’m not really sure what I will do when it runs out, maybe plan another holiday to London?!?!?!

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Jo Malone Products

Probably the easiest way to add a touch of the Royal wedding into your own home and daily life appears to be through the use of the Jo Malone products that Kate used in Westminster abbey as they are reliably in stock and available world-wide. In an effort to have Westminster abbey resemble a British garden wedding Kate transformed the chapel through the bringing in of trees and flowers and the use of Jo Malone Orange blossom scented candles and hand washes of grapefruit and lime, basil and mandarin.

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Official Royal Wedding Program

My newest Royal wedding memorabilia has been recently gifted to me by a lovely follower on Instagram. A local London lady who loves near Buckingham Palace, she wondered down on the day of the wedding and was able to score a couple of the programs. I feel incredibly privileged that she offered to send me this as I truly would not have been able to get my hands on one otherwise and truly cherish it.

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I would love to do a follow-up post in April over the Royal wedding anniversary  so if you have any memorabilia you would like to share or were lucky enough to be there on the day please get in touch via the contact form or send me a message over on instagram.

Kylie

My Favourite Royal Moments of 2016

2016 was a great year for Royal watchers, with multiple tours from our favourite Royals and a multitude of festivities planned in honour of the Queens 90th birthday, there was no shortage of the Royals being out and about. In today’s post I’m taking a look back at my top 5 Royal moments of 2016.

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5. The Cambridge’s at Christmas

With the announcement that the Cambridge’s would be attending a private christmas with the Middleton’s and not be releasing a christmas portrait there were many of us who thought we would not see the family at all, however those who stayed online with hopes of a morning church appearance were heavily rewarded when the cambridges not only attended church with the littlest members of the family in tow but when Kate wore a $20 faux fur mini slot through collar from online retailer ASOS which was still available. A big shout out to Gemma from Food, Fash & Fit,  who so quickly made the ID and the christmas of everyone who was able to purchase it!

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The christmas appearance was also significant as it was the first time Prince George and Princess charlotte had attended the christmas day service with their parents which was not expected until the children were a few years older.

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4. Kate appears on the cover of Vogue

There aren’t many things that stay a secret in todays technological age without at least a few whispers or rumours leaking first but Kate’s collaboration with Vogue and the British National Portrait Gallery was a complete surprise when Vogue released the first images.

The collaboration came about as the gallery was holding an exhibit of portraits commissioned by Vogue in their 100th anniversary year. After many years of attempts to have Kate pose for the cover of Vogue she finally agreed, in support of the gallery of which she is a patron and to support the art of photography and portraiture which she has a long-term interest in. The photos were a wonderful collection of images which showcased her private country life and not the ball gown and glamour images many of us would have expected of a Royal featuring in Vogue.  What was most inspiring was to see how Kate’s confidence since becoming a Royal has grown to not only enable her to take on a projet such as this but to drive it so it remains true and authentic to herself and her personal style and life.

 

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3. The Queen turns 90

Last year provided many specials moments in celebration of the Queens 90th birthday, from the release of special portraits with the Queen and her heirs, the 90th birthday spectacular held at Windsor castle, a documentary where we found out what Kate gave the Queen for christmas her first year as a Royal and the fabulous street party held at Buckingham Palace.

 

2. Kate hikes up a mountain and still looks perfect

Proving she was a great choice to star in this years London marathon ad as she is definitely fit enough to run one, Kate was left with not a hair out of place and barley broke a sweat during a 3 hour hike to a remote monastery during the Royal tour of Bhutan whilst Will appeared out of breath.

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1. The Cambridge’s take a family vacation to the snow

My favourite Royal moment of 2016 was right at the start of year when they surprisingly released images taken on a private family vacation to the French Alps which was the first time the children had seen snow. Showing how much the children had grown and what a cheeky, playful and affectionate relation ship Will and Kate have, I think these photos are my favourite ever of the two as a couple.

 

Well that wraps up my favourite Royal moments of 2016. With Kate’s first appearance of the year scheduled for Tuesday  and with her taking on extra patronages as the Queen scales back i’m definitely looking forward to seeing whats in store for 2017!

 

A Middleton Style Christmas

There have been many news reports this week that suggest the Cambridge family will not be attending the Queens Christmas celebration at Sandringham but will be celebrating privately at Kate’s family estate in Buckleberry. Thanks to Kate’s sister Pippa’s event planning book Celebrate, we have a bit of insight into how the Middleton family celebrates Christmas, through the book itself and some publicity interviews Pippa gave at the time of the books release. Read on to find my top tips on how to add that Middleton touch to your own festivities.

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Stir Up Sunday Weekend

Stir up Sunday weekend traditionally occurs on the last Sunday before the start of the advent calendar, so the last weekend in November. It is a terrific time to get everyone together for some quality family time and get prepared for the busy Christmas season which will  follow.

Traditionally the weekend is used to make the Christmas pudding however it can also be used as a time to make a variety of Christmas crafts such as home-made cards and crackers or Bon bons. In her book Celebrate, Pippa recalls the best thing about Christmas was the anticipation and she remembers spending her December weekends as a child making cards, decorating the tree and making brandy butter and peppermint creams. These are traditions Kate will likely continue with George and Charlotte.

Make Edible Gifts

Do you have family and friends that your just not sure of what to give them for gift? Do you have in-laws that seem to have everything already? Surely this is a dilemma that Kate must have felt her first Christmas as a royal in 2011. During the documentary made to celebrate the Queens 90th birthday, Kate revealed that for her first Christmas at  Sandringham she gave the Queen a jar of homemade chutney  and the next day it was on the table for the Royals to use. A homemade edible gift will make a thoughtful and personalised impression and Pippa’s book is jam-packed full of recipes for edible gifts including gingerbread stars, peppermint creams and her grandmothers chutney recipe.

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Stick To A Traditional Colour Scheme

Pippa has stated that she prefers a Christmas table of rich reds and evergreens with touches of gold as it makes her feel very nostalgic of her childhood so it’s fairly safe to assume that is the colour scheme Carole Middleton will have the house decorated in this year. She has also said that around Christmas bowls of walnuts, clementines and shiny gold wrapped chocolates popped up around the house. If you are not familiar with Emma Bridgewater pottery you should definitely take a peek right now during the  Christmas sale. They have beautiful glass bowls etched with the words walnuts and clementines as well as beautiful Christmas pottery in colours of red and green decorated with wreaths, holly and robins to add that traditional touch to your Christmas table next year.

Keep One Meal Simple

Pippa has stated that her family always has a good breakfast of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and plenty of coffee and a proper sit down roast dinner with all the trimmings at night but their lunch is a simple ploughman’s style meal in the afternoon so that the family can make the most of the daylight hours. Whether you choose to make your main meal lunch or dinner, keeping the other meal a simple help yourself ploughman’s buffet allows you to spend extra time with friends and family and allows you to enjoy a traditional Christmas ham.

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Don’t Forget To Have Some Family Fun

As mentioned the Middleton’s choose to have their main meal at dinner instead of lunch so they can make the most of the daylight hours and have some family fun and its important that we all do that as well, which can be easy to forget amidst the busyness of meal planning, cooking and trying to find the perfect gifts. The Middleton’s spend time together at Christmas by going on a long family walk after lunch and then enjoying post dinner games such as bouchon. They also  put together a jigsaw on christmas day which Pippa has said brother James always steals a piece of so he can be the person who always puts the last piece of the puzzle in, which she says annoys her greatly to this day! William and Kate are famed for their competitive streak and this seems to be a trait Kate shares with her Middleton siblings! A little more unusual tradition the family have though involves their father Michael Middleton who enjoys sneaking off and surprising the family every year by emerging in elaborate costumes, Pippa stated that a few years ago he came out dressed as a sumo wrestler which the family found quite funny.

However you and your family are chosing to celebrate this holiday season I hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday season!