Because we all know if it ain’t a new corgi puppy, the Queen isn’t interested.
While we feel like finding a great Christmas gift for our grandmother is about as hard as it gets, it’s safe to say that it’s not quite the same as finding a Christmas gift for your grandmother(-in-law) who also happens to be Queen Elizabeth II of England. Just as we often find ourselves lamenting “What do you get someone who has everything?!,” we cannot imagine purchasing something the longest ruling monarch of all time doesn’t already have.
We recently found out Meghan Markle—though not technically part of the royal family yet—is spending Christmas with the Mountbatten-Windsors this year, and we’re practically soaked in sweat for her. Imagining the Queen giving a half-hearted smile or, worse, a disapproving purse of her lips upon opening our Christmas gift is positively petrifying. Luckily for the bride-to-be, her future sister-in-law might be able to give a few pointers. The Duchess of Cambridge blazed a trail during her first Christmas with the royal family by giving the Queen of England—gasp!—a homemade gift.
In an interview last year for the ITV documentary, Our Queen at Ninety, the Duchess said, “I was worried what to give the Queen as her Christmas present. I was thinking, 'Gosh, what should I give her?’ And I thought back to what would I give my own grandparents. And I thought, 'I'll make her something.' Which could have gone horribly wrong.”
Before you imagine the 91-year-old queen wrapping a shabby hand-knitted scarf around her jeweled-and-pearled neck, get ready to give an approving nod to the homemade gift of choice. Kate Middleton whipped up a batch of marrow chutney straight from her family recipe box. (Rest assured: In this case, marrow is not of the bone variety. It’s zucchini.) Southerners know the power of a family recipe during the holiday season, whether for a family feast or homemade food gifts. Giving a home-cooked gift is like giving a small piece of love and comfort. You’re deeming the receiver worthy of your time and effort—not to mention, your very best dishes. (You wouldn’t dare give a subpar cookie or casserole to anybody.) The chutney in question is a traditional English-style recipe with marrows, apples, brown sugar, vinegar, and raisins; and the spread works extremely well with a cheese board or, perhaps, at tea time. Of course—in true Duchess of Cambridge fashion, it went over just swimmingly.
"I was slightly worried about it, but I noticed the next day that it was on the table. I've noticed since she's done that on lots of occasions and I think it just shows her thoughtfulness, really, and her care in looking after everybody,” said Middleton.
The whole exchange oozes Southern holiday grace and hospitality, from the passed-down family recipe—known to the Middleton family as Granny’s Marrow Chutney—to the polite gesture of serving it to guests the following day. (We’re starting to rethink our Christmas shopping list this holiday season; fingers inching towards Mama’s recipe box.)
Meanwhile, at the Royal Christmas at Sandringham, the homemade chutney is going to be a hard one to top this year. But we’re sure the Duchess will rise to the occasion.