AS a monarch who took pride in her faith, it is no surprise that Easter was one of the late Queen Elizabeth’s favourite holidays.
It always marked a time when most of her family members would gather to spend quality time together and reflect on the traditional meaning of the holiday.
But after her death at 96 in September last year, the Royal Family will face their first Easter without their beloved matriarch.
Although many may assume it will be a solemn period for members of The Firm, royal expert Ingrid Seward believes it will be a joyous occasion, on the contrary, and will bring back some memories.
In a chat with The Sun, Ingrid says: “As Easter is early this year it is also the second anniversary of Prince Philip’s death on Easter Sunday and the Queen Mum died on Good Friday of Easter 2002 – 21 years ago. I think the mood will be happy as they were all very old but reflective.”
The Queen’s memory will also be kept alive through many of their activities this year.
“Probably some special prayers in the private chapel within the castle just for the family and immediate household,” Ingrid says.
“There will also be a mention during the Easter service at St. George’s Chapel for both the Queen and Philip. All the Royal Family staying at the castle will attend as they always do although last year the Queen was not mobile enough to go and Charles and Camilla were at Birkhall.”
Ingrid believes it will be a big family reunion following the difficult past few months the royals have had.
She says: “The whole family which will include: The Chattos and children, Princess Anne and Tim Laurence, Zara and Mike Tindall and their children, Peter Phillips and his two girls, Sophie and Edward and their two children, Beatrice and Eugenie with their husbands and children.
“Obviously Prince William and Kate and their three children will be there unless they are away skiing. They were at Windsor last year. Also, Lord Snowdon and possibly his children. It is always the same group and has been for many years.
Kate is a great organiser and will almost certainly organise an Easter egg hunt
“It is possible Camilla’s children Laura and Tom and their children might be there too, but we will have to wait and see on that one.”
She adds: “As Queen Camilla will be there at the King’s side, it is very unlikely she won’t be as Easter is the holiest time in the religious calendar and King Charles is defender of the Faith.
“Her duty is to be at his side. Her children and grandchildren are very likely to be there as it is their only opportunity to spend some time with the King and his family before the coronation.”
Even with recent scandal, Ingrid believes an invitation will be extended to Prince Andrew but isn’t too sure one of his closest relations would be welcomed.
She explains: “I am certain Andrew will be there with his daughters and their husbands. This is King Charles’ first Easter and although he won’t be there for more than a few days it is important he keeps up the tradition of the Easter Court.
“It is an opportunity for the whole family to get together before the coronation and no one is going to refuse an invitation from the King whatever they are doing.
“I am not sure about Fergie but it would be nice if she were invited as she of course has the Queen’s corgis.”
Ingrid suggests Kate may even take centre stage when it comes to organising some of the activities.
“Kate is a great organiser and will almost certainly organise an Easter egg hunt – they can also go to the royal mews and see the horses there and there is an indoor pool for swimming and ponies for them to ride,” she says.
Carrying on the tradition
Most of the members of the Royal Family are traditionalists and don’t often stray too far from the norms set by their predecessors – including the location of their Easter celebrations.
Ingrid says: “It will be held at Windsor Castle. Easter Court as it is known is always at Windsor and always has been.
“The royal gathering is not as large as it used to be and it has always revolved around the children and grandchildren. Breakfast on Easter Day is always decorated boiled eggs and tiny gifts are exchanged but nothing expensive maybe a painted box or bunny.”
We will also see King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla take part in some of the activities that were dear to his mother.
“The King and Queen will attend the Royal Maundy service on Thursday which is a ceremony which has taken place every year in England since 600 AD and the Queen started the tradition of taking it nationwide at different cathedrals each year.
“After she’d drive to Windsor for the start of the four-day gathering. The royal chef always makes hot crossed buns and the extended family goes to St. George’s chapel on Easter Day.
“Afterwards, they have drinks in the Deanery with the Dean of Windsor, who is also invited for lunch.
“Charles is a traditionalist so I am sure he will do things as they have always been done since he was a child. This means over the four days of Easter all meals are served in the Queen’s private dining room.”
Ingrid says it is “a large room full of fine military paintings on the first floor of the Queen’s Tower overlooking the East Terrace.”
But the King will not stay at Windsor for the duration of the period like his mother used to do. Instead, Ingrid says he will return to London and “possibly” go to Sandringham.
When it comes to food, it will be a typical royal Easter dinner like it’s always been.
“They will all have dinner together but not the young children they will eat in the nursery dining room,” Ingrid says.
“The Queen always said until they could hold a knife and fork properly they could not eat at the table, but Charles might have relaxed that rule a bit.
“But dinner is only for grown-ups. Traditional Easter fare like roast lamb – everything will be from the royal estates, so it could include venison, pheasant chicken, spring vegetables, new potatoes, and carrots. Salmon caught in the River Dee and roast ham could be included.
“It will all be English food and include favourites like rhubarb crumble with cream from the royal dairy.”