Mike Tindall‘s life got a whole lot different when he married Queen Elizabeth‘s granddaughter Zara Phillips back in 2011. And now, seven years later, the former rugby star is dishing all on what it’s really like to spend the holidays with the royal family.

In the latest episode of the talk show House of Rugby, Mike, 40, revealed that a royal holiday includes a lot of trips to church. “It’s quite a strange day because if you’re from up north, normally I’d spend my whole day in my boxer shorts,” Mike jokes. “So by the time I’d normally have gotten up, I’ve been to church twice. It’s strange for me, with not really a massive church-going background. So yeah, it’s completely different. I’ve never had to take as many outfits anywhere.” And speaking of outfits, Mike has no problem “dressing up” for Christmas Eve, as he rocked a very festive red suit jacket and tie. And believe it or not, the Queen was all about it.

“The Queen loves bright colors,” Mike gushed. “That’s why she wears all those amazing colors that she does wear because she thinks dark colors are for sad times.”

Mike Tindall and the Queen
Getty Images

Once church wraps up, Mike shared that all the royals get together to watch the Queen’s annual Christmas speech. But that’s not all the family watches, as the Downton Abbey Christmas special usually follows on TV. “I don’t watch it, but there’s a lot of people who do,” Mike said. And while there’s a ton of food on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day is all about a cold buffet, as Mike revealed that the environment is “a little bit more quiet.” And that’s mainly because, according to Mike, the Queen understands the importance of giving her royal staff a much-needed holiday break. “She loves all the staff that she has working for her, so she’ll give as many the day off on Christmas Day as she can,” Mike said.

And don’t worry about presents, as Zara, 37, handles all of that business. Mike said that his wife got all 27 people at Sandringham a present this year, and that includes the 50 people at the Queen’s Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace that also received a gift from her. “My wife is incredible at buying Christmas presents, and she was done by around the 14th of December. She started in mid-November,” Mike explained. Mike and his wife have two children, 4-year-old Mia, and a baby girl they welcomed this July named Lena Elizabeth.

There may be plenty of protocol if you’re a royal family member, but it does seem like their holidays are filled with a lot of family time and tradition!

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