Queen Elizabeth is no doubt extremely busy as the head of the British royal family — but that doesn't stop her from making time to thank her massive staff for all they do. Every holiday season, the monarch plays Santa (minus the coat and beard, we're guessing) and gives her employees a generous Christmas bonus.
Every one of the 550 or so staff members will receive a gift voucher from Her Majesty, with the cash amount varying by how long a person has worked for the queen. Of course, this tradition must follow strict royal protocol. Staff members receive their vouchers in order of seniority, with the most senior staff going first. (Can you imagine getting a gift from the queen herself?!)
Then, every employee is treated to a Christmas pudding, which is a traditional British dessert that's similar to a fruit cake. The queen pays for roughly 1,500 puddings, according to the royal family's website, so hungry staff don't have to worry about sharing. Each pudding comes with a card from the queen and her husband, Prince Philip. The queen also donates money to dozens of charities and offers free Christmas trees to churches and schools this time of year, showing she's certainly not lacking in Christmas spirit.
There's one other Christmas tradition the queen likes that involves one special member of her staff. The most senior royal chef gets to have a glass of whiskey with the royal family, according to former royal chef Darren McGrady.
“Right before the Christmas buffet, the senior chef on duty goes into the dining room and carves the rib roast, or turkey, or ham, and once he’s done, Her Majesty presents the chef with a glass of whiskey and they toast,” McGrady said. “That’s the only time the chef goes into the dining room and has a glass of whiskey with the royal family. It’s one of the chef’s favorite traditions.”