Nothing about today was unexpected, but even so, it was still incredibly exciting to not only see Meghan Markle join the Royal Family at Sandringham, but to see the first photos of her and the Duchess of Cambridge together. And if that wasn’t enough, the lineup of her, Prince Harry, Kate and the Duke of Cambridge finally gave us a visual of what has already been deemed the “fab four” by the press – the new normal for the royal trio, if you will.
As discussed on Saturday – and as regular royal watchers well know – we get these festive images each year when the Royal Family walks to and from Sandringham House to the nearby church, St Mary Magdalene, on Christmas Day. It’s yet another annual event in which we see members of the RF gather together, but what makes this particular outing so special is that it’s a happy, less formal occasion and we’re almost certain to see the whole gang.
The mid-morning church service comes in-between an early breakfast held at Sandringham House – men are served in the dining room, while women take the meal in their rooms and children in the nursery. Younger children, like Prince George and Princess Charlotte, don’t attend, but slightly older children, such as the Earl and Countess of Wessex’s 13-year-old daughter, Lady Louise, can.
After the walk from church, which always involves mingling with the gathered crowds who have come to say hello, the family returns to the House for a large luncheon.
The service at 11 am GMT likely allows plenty of time for William and Kate to do a proper Christmas morning with their children, while Harry and Meghan are believed to be staying with them in their nearby home of Anmer Hall.
While the Duke of Edinburgh joined his children and grandchildren for the public walk, the Queen arrived by car per usual. There was a memorable moment when the monarch stepped from the vehicle and the younger royals – the fab four, if you will – all lined up for curtsies and bows. It’s the first time we’ve seen Meghan curtsy, which is still likely a bit of a novelty for her.
But while Meghan appeared nervous at times, she handled herself as easily and charmingly as she did during her first engagement with Harry in Nottingham.
For the occasion Meghan chose a camel wrap coat by the Canadian brand Sentaler, which first came to royal consciousness courtesy of Kate during last autumn’s tour of Canada. I think it’s likely that we’ll continue to see a mix of Canadian, American and British brands from Meghan and that she’ll fly the [fashion] flag for her home and first adopted country during at least her engagement.
It’s unclear who her hat is by, but as we also saw in Nottingham, she opted to carry a handbag, this time a round, brown bag by Chloe. Her matching brown suede boots are Stuart Weitzman.
Kate also debuted a new ensemble, choosing a festive plaid coat by Miu Miu, from which I don’t believe we’ve ever seen her wear apparel. If true, then we’ve gotten another designer to add to the mix from the Duchess. Featuring a black Peter Pan collar and paired with a black fur hat and her black suede Tod’s heels, it was all very Kate and on theme.
I don’t know if I would love this in any other setting, but it was pitch perfect for today and it actually reminded me of the large, bold plaids that the late Princess of Wales used to wear in the ’80s. So, let’s call it a win – and I do love the hat.
The Queen stole the day in an all orange ensemble. Always the showstopper, that one. I also liked the Duchess of Cornwall’s pink coat with black accent bows.
And I’ll give an honorable mention to the boldness of Sophie of Wessex’s ensemble, as well as the fun pairing of Princess Beatrice’s grey coat with a royal blue hat. (At first I thought Princess Eugenie hadn’t turned up, but she is in fact there and visible next to Beatrice in the curtsying photo above.)
As for the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, there was a comical moment in which the latter retrieved a dropped hat.
It’s very possible we’ll see another Sandringham outing from some of the RF over the next week, but those are difficult to predict. Our best bet will be this coming Sunday depending on who remains in Norfolk (besides the Queen). But we likely won’t see engagements start to be added to the calendar until at least the week of January 8, so we’re in for a slow few days.
To take advantage of that here, we’ll be slipping in some history and covering the end of year engagement numbers – or, more accurately, the coverage of the engagement numbers. In the meantime, I hope everyone is having a relaxing and happy holiday 🙂