There have been a lot of headlines over the last few days as to whether or not Meghan Markle will join the Royal Family for Christmas at Sandringham later this month. Traditionally, only royals’ spouses have been invited to join, while significant others and even fiancés/fiancées have not. Thus, if Meghan joins Harry at Sandringham it’s being touted as quite the break with protocol, however I would reiterate that Kensington Palace has declined to comment thus far and nothing is known for certain.
In my opinion, if Meghan doesn’t turn up at Sandringham, the likelihood of that being because she wasn’t welcome are slim to none. My guess is that if she and Harry decide they want to do “royal Christmas” then that’s exactly what will happen, however there is a distinct possibility that she’ll opt to spend her last holiday as a private citizen with her own family in the U.S. or with friends in the UK. The former option stands out as less likely to me only because she just got to England and those flights have a way of catching up to you.
It’s also possible that she and Harry will take a similar approach to what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have done over the years, which is to pick and choose which aspects of the Sandringham show they turn up for. Thus, she could be pictured during one of the family’s walks to church, etc. but not necessarily stay in the big house where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are. One option, of course, would be staying with William and Kate, who generally opt to remain at Anmer Hall when they do holidays in Norfolk.
Understandably, this Christmas is being compared to that of 2010, when Kate was a royal fiancée. That year she spent the holiday with her family in Berkshire, with the logistics being reported at the time as her “last Christmas” with her family once she was within the Windsor fold. As we’ve seen, that certainly hasn’t been the case – William and Kate have spent two Christmases in Berkshire since their wedding. There’s also the small wrinkle that William opted to be on call for work during the 2010 holiday, which is standard practice for unmarried pilots, thus allowing others to be with their families. My guess is that the two mutually decided to spend the holiday apart and that if they had wanted to be at Sandringham with William’s family, Kate would absolutely have been issued an invitation.
But all of this brings last year to mind, when the Cambridges opted to go to Berkshire and not Sandringham and were roundly criticized by many. I’ve never quite understood the angst over this – and yes, I understand the traditional aspect of the RF’s holiday and yes, I understand that the Queen is in her 90s. I think it’s completely normal that each nuclear family would opt to occasionally spend a year here and there with the other side these days, and I would imagine Harry and Meghan will similarly choose to come to the U.S. for certain years in the future.
Nevertheless, let’s take a look at how William and Kate have spent each of their Christmas holidays over the last seven years for, I don’t know, fun.
As mentioned, Kate spent Christmas 2010 with her family in Berkshire, while William was in Wales working. Here she is pictured driving near the day:
In 2011, eight months after the royal wedding, Kate turned up at Sandringham for the first time decked out in purple.
In 2012, Christmas fell just a few weeks after news of Kate’s first pregnancy was announced and she was in the middle of battling HG. Understandably, she and William opted for a more low-key holiday in Berkshire and she was photographed attending church on the day of – the same church we saw countless photos of this past spring during Pippa Middleton’s wedding.
In 2013, she and William were back at Sandringham, telling one woman who turned up to greet the RF that Prince George was currently quite taken with wrapping paper. Aren’t we all?
2014 saw another royal Christmas for William and Kate at Sandringham, though they used Anmer Hall as their home base and the Middletons were included in the festivities (they didn’t walk with the Windsor clan to and from church). At the time, Kate was roughly five months pregnant with Princess Charlotte.
They took a similar route in 2015, turning up for the most important moments of the RF’s Christmas traditions, but otherwise hosting the Middletons at Anmer Hall so that they too could see George and Charlotte on the holiday.
It was 2016 that saw a break with tradition, which took many by surprise. The Cambridges spent the holiday in Berkshire and were photographed attending church with both of their children and the Middletons on Christmas Day. I think a lot of this surprise and/or disappointment was intensified by the fact that the Queen was then suffering from a heavy cold and for the first time in recent memory was unable to make it out to church with the rest of her family. From William and Kate’s point of view, I think a holiday in Berkshire was in order for two reasons: 1) presumably Carole Middleton would still like to host the occasional Christmas per their own family’s traditions and 2) it was Pippa’s last Christmas before she married, so I think there was some significance around that.
I didn’t think it was a big deal, but a LOT of people did. For those of you have been royal watching for a while, I would love to know what you thought about all of this in the comments.
As for this year, I think it’s a safe bet that William and Kate will be back at Sandringham and follow a schedule more akin to 2014 and 2015. I hope they do get to host Harry and Meghan, and I would love it if that house party also included the Middletons. We know that Meghan attended Pippa’s wedding reception back in May, but I have a feeling those two will particularly get along. Time will tell, but I do promise to carve out some time on Christmas evening to share photos and updates for how it all plays out 🙂