Meghan Markle Received a Christmas Welcome From the Royal Family That Kate Middleton Never Had

Each Christmas the royal family gathers at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk to celebrate. Queen Elizabeth II travels there a few days before the holiday while the rest of her family arrives on Christmas Eve.

Some of the royals’ holiday traditions include exchanging and opening presents on Christmas Eve, attending church service on Christmas morning, and feasting on a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. And when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were engaged the queen granted the Suits star a privilege that no other royal fiancée before her, including Kate Middleton, ever got.

Meghan Markle receiving a bouquet as she arrives for church service on Christmas Day
Meghan Markle receiving a bouquet as she arrives for church service on Christmas Day | Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

What Meghan got to do with the royal family that Kate did not

In 2017, Meghan was invited to Sandringham to stay and celebrate with the royal family.

This was a huge deal because it was five months before she and Harry tied the knot and up until that point, only the monarch’s blood relatives and spouses of royals were allowed to stay at the Sandringham House during the festive period. That was even the case with the Duchess of Cambridge as she was not asked to join the royals while she and William were dating and when they got engaged. Kate only started doing so after she married the Duke of Cambridge.

When Meghan was seen walking alongside Harry and the other royals to her first morning church service at Sandringham, fans wondered how her Christmas with the family went.

Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle walking to the Christmas Day morning church service
Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle walking to the Christmas Day morning church service | Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

Prince Harry gushed about how well Meghan got along with his family at Christmas

A few days after Christmas, Prince Harry served as a guest editor on Radio 4 and gushed about how great the holiday was with his family and bride-to-be.

“The family loved having her there,” he said (per The Telegraph). Harry did admit that when it came to all the royal traditions he had to teach her a few things, but she handled it like a pro.

“I think we’ve got one of the biggest families that I know of, and every family is complex as well,” the prince explained before praising Meghan for how she approached everything. “She’s done an absolutely amazing job.”

He also revealed that the former actor interacted so well with all of his relatives saying: “She’s getting in there and it’s the family that I suppose she’s never had.”

Members of the royal family gathered after church service on Dec. 25, 2017
Members of the royal family gathered after church service on Dec. 25, 2017 | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

There have been changes about who is invited to Sandringham these days

In the years since Meghan’s pre-wedding appearance with the royals at Sandringham, the rules on who gets an invite to the family’s Christmas celebration have been relaxed.

In 2019, Princess Beatrice’s then-fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi was a guest at Sandringham even though the pair had to postpone their wedding because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and did not say “I do” till 2020. There have also been reports that Kate’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, have received invites to the festivities.

Hello!‘s online royal correspondent Danielle Stacey said: “Increasingly we’ve seen a much more modern monarchy, with invitations for extended family members, in-laws, and unmarried partners.”

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