How Princess Diana accidentally broke tradition during her first royal Christmas

Every family has its own take on holiday traditions. Maybe your family cooks potato pancakes for Hanukkah or eats fish on Christmas Eve or breaks into the eggnog long before the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve.

For someone who’s new to the family, though, that first holiday season—before you’ve clued in to your new clan’s particular traditions and idiosyncrasies—can be a challenge. Being royalty doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. Such was the case with Princess Diana during her first Christmas after marrying Prince Charles in 1981.

Each year, the royal family gathers on Christmas Eve at Sandringham Estate, Queen Elizabeth’s country home, the Daily Mailreports. Family members sneak down to place their gifts on tables in the red drawing room. Then the festivities kick off at 6 p.m. sharp. The only rule? The gifts must be funny. Find out why the royal family doesn’t open their gifts on Christmas Day.

17 PHOTOS
Royal family on Christmas Day 2017
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Royal family on Christmas Day 2017
Britain's Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, leads members of the royal family as they arrive to attend the Christmas Day church service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle leave St Mary Magdalene's church after the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle leave St Mary Magdalene's church after the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Queen Elizabeth leaves St Mary Magdalene's church after the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leave St Mary Magdalene's church after the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry leave St Mary Magdalene's church after the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leaves St Mary Magdalene's church after the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Meghan Markle arrives at St Mary Magdalene's church for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Prince Charles and Prince Andrew lead members of the royal family as they arrive to attend the Christmas Day church service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive at St Mary Magdalene's church for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive at St Mary Magdalene's church for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrive at St Mary Magdalene's church for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Prince William, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive at St Mary Magdalene's church for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan Markle arrive at St Mary Magdalene's church for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, leads members of the royal family as they arrive to attend the Christmas Day church service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Prince William, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive at St Mary Magdalene's church for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrive at St Mary Magdalene's church for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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“Resident jokester Prince Philip ‘supervises the proceedings’ and tells the rest of the fam when it’s time to open their ‘cheap and cheerful’ gifts,” InStylereports.

Particularly memorable presents over the years? The “Ain’t Life a B*tch” showercap that Harry gifted the Queen and the leather toilet seat Princess Anne bestowed upon Prince Charles—who likes it so much he reportedly uses it when he travels.

But as a newlywed in 1981, Princess Diana apparently didn’t get the memo about the silly gifts. She played it safe that holiday season, giving Princess Anne a cashmere sweater. In return, her sister-in-law bestowed upon her a toilet paper cover. Don’t miss the 12 weirdest gifts the royal family has ever received.

By the next Christmas, however, Diana recovered resoundingly from her faux pas. Her gift to Duchess Fergie in 1982? A leopard-print bath mat.

Fortunately, both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle seem to have avoided that pitfall and were well-aware of the royal family’s penchant for gag gifts. Before Markle started dating Prince Harry, Kate gifted him a “grow-your-own-girlfriend” kit, the Daily Mail reports. Meghan also rose to the occasion during her first royal Christmas last year. She gave the Queen a singing hamster on a string—much to the delight of Her Majesty’s beloved corgis. Next, check out these 10 royal holiday traditions you might want to steal.

The post How Princess Diana Accidentally Broke Tradition During Her First Royal Christmas appeared first on Reader's Digest.

See more on Princess Di below:

22 PHOTOS
Princess Diana with her sons
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Princess Diana with her sons
VENICE, ITALY - MAY 5: (FILE PHOTO) (L-R) Diana the Princess of Wales holds her son Harry, whilst looking at Prince William held by his father Prince Charles on May 5, 1985 in Venice, Italy. Prince William will celebrate his 21st birthday on June 21, 2003. (Photo by Georges de Keerle/Getty Images)
Princes William and Harry with their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) in the garden of Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, 18th July 1986. William is wearing a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt.(Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
TETBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 18: Princess Diana At Highgrove With Prince William And Prince Harry Dressed In Miniature Parachute Regiment Uniforms And Playing On Their Slide In The Garden (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
TETBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 18: Princess Diana With Her Sons Prince William And Prince Harry Playing With A Playhouse In The Garden Of Their Home Highgrove (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
The Prince and Princess of Wales on holiday with their children, Princes William and Harry, at the Spanish royal residence Marivent Palace, August 1987. (Photo by Terry Fincher/Getty Images)
The Princess of Wales arriving at Aberdeen airport with her sons William and Harry for a holiday at Balmoral Castle, August 1986. Princess Diana is wearing a polo motive sweater by Mondi. (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 01: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales at home in Kensington Palace with their sons Prince William and Prince Harry (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 16: Princess Diana And Prince William Leaving After Delivering Prince Harry To Mrs. Mynor's Nursery School. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 11: Diana, Princess Of Wales, Holding A Young Prince Harry In Her Arms As She Watches Trooping The Colour With Prince William And Princess Margaret From The Balcony Of Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
BALMORAL, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 18: Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Harry play on the banks of the River Dee, near Balmoral Castle.during a Summer vacation, on August 18, 1987, in Balmoral, Scotland. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
NECKER ISLAND, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS - JANUARY 9: Diana, Princess of Wales, with Prince Harry ( centre ), and her Niece's and Nephew's on holiday on Necker Island , on January 9, 1989 in Necker Island, British Virgin Islands. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
BATH - MAY 30: (FILE PHOTO) Prince William, Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry and Charles, Prince of Wales, attend the wedding of the Duke of Hussey's daughter in May, 1989 in Bath, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
LONDON - SEPTEMBER 12: (FILE PHOTO) Princess Diana with her sons Prince William and Prince Harry at Wetherby School on September 12, 1989 in London, England. It is Prince Harry's first day at school. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Diana, The Princess Of Wales Takes Her Sons, Prince'S William, And Harry Out On The Boat ' Maid Of The Mist ' To View Niagara Falls. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
CHERTSEY, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 18: Diana, Princess of Wales, with Prince Harry, on the Depth Charge ride at Thorpe Park, Theme Park, on April 18, 1992 in Chertsey United Kingdom . (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
LECH, AUSTRIA - APRIL 10: Princess Diana With Princes William & Harry Skiing In Lech, Austria (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Diana Princess Of Wales, Prince William & Prince Harry Visit The 'Thorpe Park' Amusement Park. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
AUSTRIA - MARCH 30: Lech: Princess Diana, sons William and Harry going to restaurant in calash In Lech, Austria On March 30, 1993. (Photo by Laurent SOLA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
LECH, AUSTRIA - MARCH 27: Princess Diana With Prince William & Prince Harry In Sleigh During Ski Holiday In Lech, Austria. Behind Are Diana's Friends Kate Menzies And Catherine Soames (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 19: Princess Diana, Prince Harry [ Waving ] And Prince William Watching The Parade Of Veterans On V J Day, The Mall, London. Designer Of Diana's Suit - Tomasz Starzewski (please Check - People Magazine, 04/12/1999) (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
EMBARGOED TO 0001 Sunday July 23, 2017. NO USE AFTER MONDAY JULY 31, 2017. NEWS EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO USE ON THE FRONT COVERS OF ANY UK OR INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINES. NO COMMERCIAL USE (including any use in merchandising, advertising or any other non-editorial use including, for example, calendars, books and supplements). This photograph (whose copyright is vested in the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry) is provided to you on condition that you will make no charge for the supply, release or publication of it and that these conditions and restrictions will apply (and that you will pass these on) to any organisation to whom you supply it. All other requests for use should be directed to the Press Office at Kensington Palace in writing. This photograph released by Kensington Palace, from the personal photo album of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, shows the princess holding Prince William whilst pregnant with Prince Harry, and features in the new ITV documentary 'Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy', which airs on ITV at 21.00hrs on Monday 24th July.
EMBARGOED TO 0001 Sunday July 23, 2017. NO USE AFTER MONDAY JULY 31, 2017. NEWS EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO USE ON THE FRONT COVERS OF ANY UK OR INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINES. NO COMMERCIAL USE (including any use in merchandising, advertising or any other non-editorial use including, for example, calendars, books and supplements). This photograph (whose copyright is vested in the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry) is provided to you on condition that you will make no charge for the supply, release or publication of it and that these conditions and restrictions will apply (and that you will pass these on) to any organisation to whom you supply it. All other requests for use should be directed to the Press Office at Kensington Palace in writing. This photograph released by Kensington Palace, from the personal photo album of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, shows the princess and Prince Harry on holiday and features in the new ITV documentary 'Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy', which airs on ITV at 21.00hrs on Monday 24th July.
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