King Charles III subtly celebrates ancient tradition with a sweet-scented detail on his Christmas tree

The monarch unveiled Buckingham Palace's decorations – featuring sustainable ornaments with a nod to ancient history

King Charles III
(Image credit: Getty Images)

King Charles III has unveiled his decorations in the Centre Room of Buckingham Palace's East Wing – the setting of his annual Christmas message broadcast today. The pre-recorded message offered a glimpse at how one of the world's most famous homes decorates for the holidays – and this year, it includes a subtle nod to an ancient tradition. 

The king, known as a champion of environmental issues, dressed his tree with dried orange slices – reminding us that even the most sustainable Christmas decor can look luxurious. However, there's even more to this citrus staple than its eco-friendly qualities. 

In the US, oranges were first widely associated with Christmas in the nineteenth century, following the story of The Night Before Christmas, in which people placed oranges in stockings by the fireplace. However, the practice of putting an orange in a Christmas stocking reportedly stems from the ancient legend of the Bishop of Myra, described as the original Saint Nicholas.

King Charles III

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the tale, The Bishop of Myra threw gold coins into the homes of three maidens; one piece landed in a stocking drying by the fire. The custom of filling stockings with luxury gifts, including oranges (considered exotic over winter months), started here but continues to this day despite oranges being notably more accessible. 

Today, we continue to place oranges in stockings, but we have also found new ways to celebrate this fruit – including on our Christmas tree, as King Charles demonstrates. Dried oranges have a timeless aesthetic, but naturally, they come with sweet-smelling benefits, too.

'Citrus-based scents will always be a festive favorite, and they provide us with the opportunity to get creative too. Dried fruit Christmas decorations look beautiful and smell amazing,' comments design expert Georgia Metcalfe. 

Georgia Metcalfe
Georgia Metcalfe

Georgia Metcalfe founded French Bedroom in 2006 after noticing a gap in the market for timeless, feminine French style beds. She fuses creativity and design to produce authentic and thoughtful furniture, described by consumers as ‘antiques of the future’.

Oranges on tree

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As mentioned, this decoration has sustainable qualities, and it's also refreshingly easy to recreate. 

'Simply slice citrus fruits and thinly lay them out on an oven tray, and bake them on a low heat,' Georgia instructs. To get the royal residence look, we should turn our oranges into ornaments by threading some ribbon, twine, or string through the centers of the slices, then tie a knot to secure them.

'Or, if you desire more intensity, take some cloves and press them into the segments before baking. Display them in a vase with some fairy lights or make a hole in the middle of the slices and add them to a garland or your Christmas tree,' Georgia adds.

Alternatively, we can pick up some pre-dried oranges (for a quick decoration idea) via Amazon below. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.