Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, have a reputation for busting through royal traditions and blazing their own path through the complicated world of royal life. These habits have earned them praise from some who consider the traditions outdated and even oppressive. However, it has earned them quite a bit of criticism from royal family fans who see the pair as aloof and disconnected from their responsibility to the public.
On top of all of this, rumors swirl about the interpersonal family drama between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the other royal family members. Many have speculated that the relationship between the Queen and Markle is particularly tense. Many also sense a rivalry between Duchess Meghan and her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton.
We’ve entered the time of year when traditions take center stage across the globe — and not just for royals. How will Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry’s adherence to Christmas traditions impact the family tensions? Let’s take a closer look at what we know.
There are many royal Christmas traditions
The royal family’s Christmas traditions are well-established and frequently documented. They tend to give gag gifts, and it’s one of the few times that the Queen breaks from her standard meal fare to enjoy an extravagant buffet of carved meats, freshly roasted vegetables, and — of course — Christmas pudding.
The festivities are also not held at Buckingham Palace. The royal family meets at Sandringham House in Norfolk, England to enjoy their Christmas celebration. This location has been part of the tradition for more than two decades. The queen is known to travel via train ahead of time to make sure that everything is set up perfectly for the event.
The Christmas decorations also stay up a little longer than most people’s. Because Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip remain at their holiday location to honor the queen’s late father, King George VI, the decorations remain until after their departure in early February.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have joined the royal family in the past
In the past, Markle and Prince Harry have joined in on the Sandringham House festivities. This year, however, it appears that they are ready to break with tradition.
Buckingham Palace has already issued an official notice on the subject, so the absence should come as no surprise.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time towards the end of this month. 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,” the notice read.
That last line suggests a prediction that the public would see this decision as controversial, and the announcement tries to head it off by noting the normalcy of this decision. It hasn’t stopped critics like Piers Morgan, for instance, from commenting that the decision is “a clear snub to the Queen.”
The snub may be much more serious than originally thought
If royal fans thought that attending Christmas festivities stateside was a snub to the Queen, what are they going to think if the duke and duchess are in the U.K. and still miss the royal event?
That’s what some are speculating will happen. A royal expert, Omid Scobie, recently revealed on his podcast that Markle and Prince Harry will be staying in the United States “right up until Christmas.” This has critics scrambling to figure out if the pair will be returning the U.K. but not actually attending the Sandringham House event.
While Markle spending time with her mother for the holidays doesn’t seem all that controversial, returning home only to skip out on the annual Christmas tradition would definitely be seen as a major insult.
Prince William and Duchess Kate reportedly alternate their Christmases between the queen’s celebration and the Middleton family. But since Duchess Meghan’s family celebration really involves one person — her mother, Doria Ragland — it seems they could have merged the celebration into one. Especially considering this is Baby Archie’s first Christmas. These variables have fans believing things are messier than they seem behind the scenes.
It remains to be seen, though, if this is actually the plan. It seems equally likely that Scobie simply meant that the pair would be returning right after their American Christmas events.