For 35 years, the itinerary remained unchanged. Queen Elizabeth II gathered her family at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England, to celebrate together over a few days of hunting, eating and elaborate outfit changes. “Since last year was the first Christmas since her death,” says a source exclusively to In Touch, “King Charles largely kept everything the same.”

This year, however, he’s ready to start a few of his own traditions. “Charles will always honor his mother on the holiday, but now that he’s head of the family, he’s keen to make some changes,” says the source. That means expanding the guest list and relaxing the more formal rituals. “He’s trying to modernize the monarchy, and it starts at home. Christmas at Sandringham will be different this year.”

The More the Merrier

For starters, he’s invited Queen Camilla’s family. “For years, they were forced to spend half of the day apart because Camilla wanted to be with her children and grandchildren, who weren’t members of the royal family,” says the source.

Her daughter, Laura Lopes, and Laura’s husband, Harry, have three kids, while Camilla’s son, Tom Parker Bowles, is a divorced dad of two. “For the first time ever, they get to come to Sandringham,” says the source. Kate Middleton and Prince William “are very supportive of the decision because it seemed silly to exclude Tom and Laura all these years. It will also be much less stressful for Camilla to not have to split her time between them.”

The entire event will be more laid-back. In previous years, guests were expected to make as many as five outfit changes a day — including different looks for breakfast, various indoor and outdoor activities, tea time and black-tie evening wear — “but with Charles, there will be less pressure about what to wear,” says the source, noting that Camilla “loves to lounge around in jeans. Of course, they’ll probably still get dressed up for Christmas Eve.”

The schedule remains mostly the same as well. Christmas Eve usually kicks off with a sweets-heavy tea — “Kate and the kids are making cupcakes,” says the source — followed by a gift exchange, per their German ancestors’ custom. “The children will get proper presents, like toys, games and electronics,” says the source. And while the adults have long been known to exchange gag gifts like toilet seats and aprons, “the trend is more toward still-inexpensive but thoughtful homemade items, like the chutney Kate once made for the queen.” Santa also stops by the estate. “They open those presents on Christmas morning,” says the source. “Last year, Kate was up at 5 a.m. with the kids!”

The customary walk to St. Mary Magdalene Church on Dec. 25 won’t change either. “That was always one of the queen’s favorite parts of the holiday, so Charles will keep it up,” says the source. A big turkey lunch will follow at home. “Although this year, the meal will be moved to the ballroom to accommodate all of the extra people. Charles just wants the whole family to feel welcome and be together. He’s even hoping they can all do a video call with Prince Harry and Meghan [Markle] and their kids in California. He’s hoping for a truly happy, peaceful Christmas.”

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