Queen's Christmas decorations go up in Windsor Castle as monarch prepares for 'quiet' festive season

·Royal Correspondent
·5-min read

Watch: Queen and Philip to spend Christmas at Windsor Castle

The Queen’s Christmas decorations have gone up in Windsor Castle as the monarch prepares to spend her first Christmas there in more than 30 years.

The Queen and Prince Philip have opted for a quiet Christmas in Berkshire, instead of their usual festivities in Norfolk.

The castle is always decorated for the Christmas season, and visitors are able to see it decked out in its splendour, but this is the first time the Queen will see it all on 25 December since 1987.

Windsor Castle was the more traditional home for Christmas celebrations in the 1950s and 1960s, when Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward were small.

But since 1988, they have been held in Sandringham, which was the preferred royal spot for previous kings Edward VII, George V and George VI.

The Royal Collection Trust, which manages Windsor Castle, unveiled the 2020 Christmas scenes on Wednesday.

They include a 20ft tree which was felled from Windsor Great Park.

For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of the 20-foot-high Christmas tree in St George's Hall, the largest room in Windsor Castle, which can be enjoyed by visitors to the Castle from Thursday.
The 20-foot-high Christmas tree in St George's Hall, the largest room in Windsor Castle. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)
For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of a Christmas tree in Windsor CastleÕs Inner Hall.
A Christmas tree in Windsor Castle's Inner Hall. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)

Visitors to Windsor Castle will be able to see the festive displays from Thursday, 3 December, including shimmering Christmas trees, twinkling lights and garlands.

The main attraction will be the 20ft tree adorned with 3,000 lights and hundreds of iridescent glass, red and gold mirrored ornaments.

It sits in St George’s Hall, the castle’s largest room.

There are also special displays to mark the bicentenary of King George V’s ascension to the throne.

The State Dining Room table has been laid with a display of George V’s silver-gilt Grand Service, which consists of more than 4,000 pieces. Some of them are still used in state banquets now.

Read more: Here's what a royal Christmas at Windsor used to look like

For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of a special display of the Grand Service in the State Dining Room at Windsor Castle to mark the bicentenary of George IVÕs accession to the throne.
A special display of the Grand Service in the State Dining Room at Windsor Castle to mark the bicentenary of George IV's accession to the throne. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)
For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of a special display of the Grand Service in the State Dining Room at Windsor Castle to mark the bicentenary of George IVÕs accession to the throne.
The Grand Service in the State Dining Room at Windsor Castle to mark the bicentenary of George IV's accession to the throne. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)
For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of a sRoyal Collection Trust curator puts the finishing touches on a special display of the silver-gilt Grand Service in the State Dining Room at Windsor Castle.
A Royal Collection Trust curator puts the finishing touches on a special display of the silver-gilt Grand Service in the State Dining Room at Windsor Castle. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)

As well as the large tree, there are smaller, shimmering trees dotted around the castle, and festive garlands on the staircases.

The castle’s inner hall also features a grand tree.

Christmas trees are grown at both Windsor Castle and on the Sandringham Estate, with the Queen usually getting the first pick of the bunch when she is in Norfolk.

The tree for Windsor Castle has been sourced from the Great Park since the reign of Queen Victoria.

Hundreds of sustainable trees are sold at Windsor Great Park every year.

Read more: Queen showing 'real leadership' with message 'it's alright to miss Christmas', says expert

For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of the 20-foot-high Christmas tree in St George's Hall, the largest room in Windsor Castle, which can be enjoyed by visitors to the Castle from Thursday.
The 20-foot-high Christmas tree in St George's Hall, the largest room in Windsor Castle, which was felled from Windsor Great Park. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)
For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of shimmering Christmas trees in the Queen's Gallery at Windsor Castle.
Shimmering Christmas trees in the Queen's Gallery at Windsor Castle. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)

The photos of the decorations come amid reports the Queen will also have to abandon her tradition of handing out gifts to her staff this year, because of the pandemic.

The Queen usually gives some of her team their Christmas presents in person, including long-serving members or people who have had a good year.

But this year, the Daily Mail reports the presents will be given out by head of department or via royal post because of the rules around the royal bubble.

Windsor Castle is where the Queen usually spends weekends when she is working in London during the week.

But this year, she’s been there most of the time, and was joined by Prince Philip shortly before the UK went into national lockdown in March.

Since they have been there, they have each marked a birthday, and have also celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary.

It’s said to be one of the Queen’s favoured properties, though she is fond of Sandringham and the family Christmases she spends there.

For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of Royal Collection Trust staff put the finishing touches on the 20-foot-high Christmas tree in St George's Hall, the largest room in Windsor Castle, which can be enjoyed by visitors to the Castle from Thursday.
Royal Collection Trust staff put the finishing touches on the 20-foot-high Christmas tree in St George's Hall, the largest room in Windsor Castle. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)
For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of Royal Collection Trust staff put the finishing touches on the 20-foot-high Christmas tree in St George's Hall, the largest room in Windsor Castle, which can be enjoyed by visitors to the Castle from Thursday.
The Queen will be in the castle on Christmas Day for the first time since 1987. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)
For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of festive garlands adorn the Grand Staircase at Windsor Castle.
Festive garlands adorning the Grand Staircase at Windsor Castle. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)

As well as the decorations, visitors to the Berkshire castle can also see the wartime pantomime pictures which were commissioned to cover the bare walls during the Second World War.

During the war, then Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret took part in a series of Christmas pantomimes in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle to raise money for the Royal Household Wool Fund. The fund supplied yarns to make blankets for soldiers on the frontline.

The portraits that usually lined the walls of the Waterloo Chamber had been moved, for safekeeping, and the pantomime pictures were commissioned to make the space more festive.

The pictures, by part-time art student Claude Whatham, were created on the back of wallpaper and are on display in the castle again this Christmas.

They were last on display after the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992.

For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle.
Pantomime pictures by a part-time art student in the Second World War are back on display in Windsor Castle. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)
For single use only in relation to the Christmas displays at Windsor Castle in 2020, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle.
The pictures have not been on show since 1992. (Royal Collection Trust/PA Images)

Christmas trees were first brought into royal homes in the late 18th century by Queen Charlotte, consort to George III.

She brought in a yew tree branch, as was tradition in her native Germany.

But they were popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Tickets for Windsor Castle must be booked in advance.

Watch: The Royal Family at Christmas

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