Visitors to Windsor will get a peek at Queen Elizabeth's Christmases past

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Christmas at Windsor
Windsor Castle Christmas Decorations
| Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Windsor Castle.

The home where Queen Elizabeth has been staying for much of the past two years is all decked out for the holidays. The Royal Collection Trust shared new photos and videos of ornately decorated Christmas trees featuring red and gold ornaments in St. George's Hall, where Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had their royal wedding reception and memorably introduced their son Archie, now 2, to the world.

The 20-foot tree was taken from Windsor Great Park — and it's believed that Christmas trees have been sourced from the park for Windsor Castle since the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901).

The monarch, 95, isn't the only one who can enjoy the festive decorations. Visitors can see the castle in full Christmas spirit firsthand through January 3. (Tourists can tour the State Apartments, which are separate from Queen Elizabeth's private quarters — although there's a chance of seeing her taking her beloved dogs on a walk!)

While it's tradition for Windsor Castle to get dressed up for the holidays, this year's display also includes a special link to Queen Elizabeth's Christmases past.

From November 25 until January 31, 2022, visitors to Windsor Castle will have the chance to see costumes worn by the future Queen and her sister Princess Margaret during World War II-era Christmas plays. Brought together for the first time, the costumes will be displayed in the Waterloo Chamber, where the pantomimes were originally performed 80 years ago.

The then-Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret helped stage and performed in a series of pantomimes from 1941 though 1944 to raise money for the Royal Household Wool Fund, which supplied knitting wool to make comforters for soldiers.

The pieces include outfits from an Aladdin pantomime, where the future Queen played the title role wearing a gold brocade and turquoise jacket with turquoise dungarees and matching hat. Meanwhile, Princess Margaret wore a red silk dress and matching jacket to play Princess Roxana.

The Princesses' Pantomimes' Display And Christmas Decorations Photocall
The Princesses' Pantomimes Display
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Other costumes featured include a long-sleeved pink satin and lace dress worn by Elizabeth to play Lady Christina Sherwood in a 1944 performance of Old Mother Red Riding Boots. She later donned a chintz shirt, trousers and sunhat for a seaside scene in which Princess Margaret wore a blue taffeta dress with cream lace bloomers to play The Honourable Lucinda Fairfax. Three costumes worn in Old Mother Red Riding Boots will be on display for the first time. 

Pantomimes are a slapstick-style show, which is a family tradition around Christmas in Britain. Typically based on fairy tales, the farcical musicals can be laced with some innuendo-laden rhymes and songs and require frequent raucous interventions from the audience. They often have older men playing female parts, such as the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella, or young women playing male leading roles like Peter Pan.

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty

Queen Elizabeth has been resting up at Windsor Castle following her October 20th hospitalization. Since, she canceled several engagements, including a last-minute decision to not appear at the Remembrance Day event due to a sprained back earlier this month.

In addition to using a walking cane to get around at events last month, the Queen has also reportedly been advised to give up horse riding and martinis.

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Queen Elizabeth II appears on a screen via video link from Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth's virtual audience
| Credit: Dominic Lipinski WPA Pool/Getty Images

On Thursday, the Queen held a virtual audience from Windsor with High Commissioner for Nigeria Sarafa Tunji Isola and his wife as well as the ambassador of Malaysia Zakri Jaafar, who were present at Buckingham Palace.

Last year, the Queen spent her first Christmas in 33 years at Windsor after deciding to cancel her traditional family gathering at Sandringham. No plans for this year's holiday have been announced.