Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex — and everyone’s favorite expectant mother — has gotten an early Christmas present from Prince Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. According to The Daily Mail, the queen has personally invited Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, to join the royal family for their traditional holiday celebrations in Sandringham — a “mark of [the Queen’s] respect” for Meghan, says a source, and also an acknowledgement that Meghan has no other family members in the country.
While there’s no word yet on whether Doria has accepted the gracious invitation (and the palace has so far stayed mum), we hope that she will. After all, who wouldn’t want to see just what Christmas with the royal family is like? We’re so curious, in fact, that we did a little digging to find out exactly what’s in store for Doria and for the rest of Harry and Meghan’s clan over the holidays this year.
We carefully unwrapped just how a traditional royal family Christmas tends to go — read on to get all the festive details!
The Queen Departs For Sandringham House
Christmas is celebrated at Sandringham House in Norfolk.
Though the location has varied throughout the year — when Queen Liz was a young woman the family did Christmases at Windsor Castle — this is currently the go-to meetup spot. The Queen and Prince Phillip head early for Christmas preparations on December 21. The rest of the family usually follows on December 23.
Queen Elizabeth II Christmas
Presents are laid out on the trestle tables and opened at teatime on Christmas Eve.
You're probably imagining the whole family receiving the finest luxury items, but that couldn't be further from the truth: Instead, the royals have a preference for gifts that are cheap and, believe it or not, kind of funny. Yes, they forgo an exchange of extravagance for gag gifts! (Rumor has it that Kate even gave Harry a plastic "Grow Your Own Girlfriend" kit a few years ago, believe it or not). We wish we could get a peek at what that looks like in practice.
Royal Family Black Tie
That's followed by a lavish black-tie dinner.
Let's be real, the Queen isn't going to give up her sense of propriety and tradition completely. At approximately 8 p.m., the entire family sits down for a dinner that's fit for a... well, you know. No ugly Christmas sweaters are allowed; the gentlemen are expected to wear black suits, while the women don gowns, jewels, and tiaras. The family dine on Norfolk shrimp, lamb, or other fresh game from the estate, and guzzle vintage champagne. In spite of all the fanciness, we imagine that this time is used for the family to catch up properly and enjoy each other's company.
The Royal Family Goes To Christmas Mass
The next day the family attends an 11 a.m. service at St. Mary Magdalene Church.
The Queen is driven and takes her communion privately in the morning. The rest of the family is led to the church, where they attend a 45-minute long mass.
The Queens Christmas Message
At 3 p.m., the Queen records her annual Christmas message.
The Queen's Christmas message is broadcasted to the states in the Commonwealth of Nations and gets millions of viewers a year. Typically, she reflects on the events of the year's past as well as the family's accomplishments and updates (and we're sure Harry and Meghan's wedding and baby-to-be will make the list this year!).
And finally, everyone can settle down for a delicious Christmas feast.
At this point, most of the household staff is formally dismissed, as the Queen is mindful that they also have families to celebrate with. The royal family members stick around, however, helping themselves to a massive Christmas buffet (turkey is prominently featured).
Prince William Kate Middleton George Charlotte
At some point, William, Kate, and the kids break off from Christmas Day activities and spend part of the holiday with the Middletons.
Though it's not every year, in the past they've held private holiday celebrations with William's in-laws. Last year's festivities, in fact, were spent at Carole and Michael Middleton's home in Berkshire. We're sure little Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis have plenty of fun at the party!