The world went crazy after hearing that Prince Harry had asked the hand of the American actress Meghan Markle. This time, on Wednesday, a Kensington Palace spokeswoman informed that Ms. Markle would be celebrating Christmas with her fiancé and his family at “Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth’s 20,000-acre private estate in Norfolk.”
Several royal observers have considered this information as “highly unusual.” There have been many moments where fiancés have not been allowed to spend December’s holidays with the Royal Family because it goes against the protocol.
When Prince William engaged the Duchess of Cambridge Katherine Middleton, for instance, she passed the 2010 celebrations with her family because the wedding was scheduled for the following year.
Mike Tindall, the husband of Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Zara Philips, didn’t celebrate Christmas with the Royal Family either. Like the Duchess, he had to wait until marrying Philips.
For several years, only the members of the Royal Family were able to spend time on Christmas with the Queen. And partners who are not married are, indeed, not members of the family – not under the eyes of God, nor the eyes of the State.
A statement from the Clarence House informed late November that the couple would marry on next spring.
The Royal Christmas tradition
Every Christmas Eve, the Royal Family keeps its German heritage and goes to the Queen’s residence in Norfolk. Usually, the members exchange presents and decorate the 20ft tree at the White Drawing Room. But on Christmas day, they focus entirely on showing devotion to the Christian church.
Anyways, in there they like to share tea or scones, sandwiches, cakes, and other food until they have to change their outfit to attend the formal dinner.
After the dinner is over, the celebration keeps up, even until morning. When they wake up, they find little presents and fruit at the end of their beds.
The gifts are always ordered in line. The names are written in cards placed over the presents.
“It’s quite set, it’s quite formal. It’s looked pretty much the same since the Queen’s youth, since the 50s,” Royal historian Kate Williams told the BBC. “You arrive when told to arrive… There are quite a lot of different dresses required – change for church, change for dinner.”
On Christmas morning, the Family gathers at the St Mary Magdalene Church in the village of Sandringham. In here, the members offer service and meet with well-wishers outside the chapel.
A challenge for the new member
Williams said it’s very rare to see Meghan attending the Royal’s Christmas. According to her, this shows the public how compromised Harry is to her fiancé, and how serious Markle is “to make her life in Britain.”
However, this is a tradition that Markle has never attended. It might be quite different for her.
When Megan has to sit to have the formal dinner, she will be separated from Harry. Thus, forcing her to share with the other members of the Royal Family. This will be until 10 pm when the Queen will tell the women to leave the room for the men.
Once the room’s alone, the Duke of Edinburgh will serve brandy for the companions and have a good conversation.
Finally, Megan will be able to join Harry and watch the Queen’s speech, like any other family in the country. However, she will not see her on television, but in person.