Royals Christmas Party at the Palace! Prince Albert and Princess Charlene Bring Twins for Annual Tradition Monaco's royal family continued a tradition started by Prince Albert's mother, American actress turned royal Princess Grace By Peter Mikelbank Published on December 16, 2022 02:10 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Prince Jacques, Princess Charlene, Princess Gabriella and Prince Albert. Photo: Eric Mathon/Courtesy of The Prince's Palace The look on their faces, one longtime observer suggests, says it all. One of Monaco's most beloved traditions, the children's Christmas party at the palace, returned on Wednesday. The event was started by American actress turned royal Princess Grace, and this year's event hosted by the reunited royal family — Prince Albert, Princess Charlene and their 8-year-old twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella — did not disappoint. It is an event in which Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella (coordinating with her mother in midnight blue coats) seem increasingly to be making their own. Princess Charlene, beside Prince Jacques, and Prince Albert assisted Princess Gabriella, who "seemed to enjoy giving away gifts as much as those receiving them," the observer says. "You can see clearly this is one of the family's favorite times." Princess Charlene Says Her Family Is Her 'Rock' During Health Recovery: 'I Feel So Much Better' Eric Mathon/Courtesy of The Prince's Palace Held in the palace courtyard (decorated this year with display islands of giant penguins and polar bears), the annual event began in the early 1960s. Initiated by Princess Grace and Prince Rainier as a way of introducing the American-born princess to Monaco's children, the party is like no other palace festivity. In a way, Grace's legacy was unintentional but the best idea imaginable to build ties between the palace and the next generation of Monegasque citizens. It was a small gesture that for many has become a very anticipated occasion and a lifetime memory. With Rainier's enthusiastic support, Grace and their children created an annual bridge between their family and the children of Monaco. Sixty years on, it is remembered by parents and grandparents lined up as escorts outside the palace. Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty While the first party featured a reel of Disney cartoons hastily borrowed from a film distributor in Nice, Santa and cake, the annual event has grown into the holiday season's most anticipated event: a family, invitation-by-request day inside the palace with gifts, entertainers (jugglers and acrobats in the courtyard this year), decorations, lights, holiday cupcakes and the palace's own fabled hot chocolate. Made with milk from cows at Albert's private residence Roc Agel, palace chef Christian Garcia creates a thicker-than-imaginable concoction redolent of melted candy bars and cinnamon which one annual returnee swears, "I begin dreaming of in May. Right after Easter." Princess Charlene and Prince Jacques. Eric Mathon/Courtesy of The Prince's Palace Since the first year when Rainier sat on a folding chair, however, the main attraction and most unusual aspect of the party has always been that each child receives a "bespoke" gift directly from a member of the ruling family. And at that moment, each child has the opportunity — if only briefly — to speak directly to the reigning sovereign. The twins made their Christmas party debut at age 2, carried by their parents. But they no longer need a hand. Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more! Eric Mathon/Courtesy of The Prince's Palace In contrast to previous years, this season the royal family deferred making a formal entrance, arriving ahead of their guests, who were paraded in by Santa Claus through the main palace gates. This private viewing allowed Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella to check out the Santa's Workshop-themed decorations for themselves and roam around the giant penguin islands. Once their 600 guests arrived, they were engaging, enthusiastic and sometimes naughtily playful in handing out gifts and candy.