The Bittersweet Reason Why The Queen Leaves Her Christmas Tree Up Until February

The royal family has some very unique holiday traditions that they have been following for decades. While some of them are slightly controversial, like Prince Philip's pheasant hunt, others are sweet, meaningful, and much more modern.

In addition to multiple food-related activities that take place at their Norfolk estate, Sandringham House, over the days leading up to Christmas, the Queen and her family attend multiple church services, play games, and exchange gag gifts.

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This year, the Queen even allowed her grandson Prince Harry to break tradition by inviting his fiance, Meghan Markle, to the intimate festivities. There's always been an unwritten rule that unmarried partners won't join the family at Sandringham, but Markle was the exception.

"Together we had a really amazing time," Harry said on Radio 4's Today. "We had great fun staying with my brother and sister-in-law and running around with the kids."

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While the Queen has been lenient about introducing new holiday traditions, including watching Harry and William play a charity soccer game, there are certain exceptions she just won't make, especially when it comes to decorations.

The monarch usually has her decorations up by the second week of December, and once at Sandrimgham, the family will finish decorating the Christmas tree together after partaking in the Christmas Eve afternoon tea.

However, when it comes to taking the festive decor down, Her Majesty waits until early February to do so, and there's a very bittersweet reason why.

Once the Christmas festivities wrap up, the Queen and Prince Philip continue their stay at their country house until February. While the royal couple take this time to recharge away from the bustling city that is London, there's another reason why they extend their stay.

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The Queen has always had a strong attachment to Sandringham because she has spent every Christmas there, ever since she was a child. It is also the same house where her father King George VI died in his sleep sometime during the night of February 5, 1952. His remains are housed in a coffin in the church of St. Mary Magdalene, which is located just a short walk from the estate.

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Although it's been over six decades since King George's death, Queen Elizabeth still honors his memory by leaving the keeping the halls decked until after February 6th.

Unlike the lavish Buckingham palace decorations that cost millions, the royal family keep it much simpler at Sandringham. According to former royal chef Darren McCready, the decor usually includes "a large Christmas tree and a large silver artificial tree in the dining room, which is about 30 years old."


In England, some people believe that leaving Christmas decorations up past Twelfth Night on January 5 or Epiphany on the 6th brings bad luck, but the Queen clearly doesn't buy into this superstition.

How long do you keep your Christmas decorations up?