While royals are typically expected to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s annual get-together at Sandringham House, rule-flouters Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are making other plans, multiple outlets report.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time towards the end of this month,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Wednesday. “Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, Their Royal Highnesses will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess’ mother Doria Ragland. This decision is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family, and has the support of Her Majesty The Queen.”
Rumors of the Christmas change-up have been brewing for days.
"The plans have not been finalized," a source told Vanity Fair earlier this week. "They will be in America for Thanksgiving later this month and there's a chance they might choose to stay out there a while longer which might mean missing Christmas."
"They need some time away to recharge and decide their plans for next year," a source told The Sun.
Their decision may have consequences, some say.
Biographer Sally Bedell Smith told Vanity Fair this "could be seen as another piece of evidence that [Harry and Meghan] are going their own way if they don't show up for Christmas."
Still, the Queen is pretty chill, Smith claimed. "The Queen is pretty tolerant and she may not begrudge them missing Christmas given Meghan's mother is in the States," Smith continued. "It will be a useful time for the couple to re stock reassess and decide how they want to move forwards. Christmas at Sandringham is a deeply embedded tradition in the royal family however and it's expected that everyone will be there, but the Queen does sometimes make allowances."
Who will be by the Queen’s side? Kate Middleton, Prince William and their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
"Things between them are still not great," the source told the magazine. "The feeling is that Harry and Meghan have rather alienated themselves from the rest of the family."