On Christmas Day fans can always expect to see the royal family arriving at church service near Queen Elizabeth II‘s Sandringham estate in Norfolk. However, this year we won’t see a couple of popular royals as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are spending the holidays in the U.S. with the actress’ mother. When that decision was announced, some saw it as Markle snubbing Her Majesty. But the choice was an easy one for her thanks to Kate Middleton.
Here’s how the Duchess of Cambridge actually helped the Duchess of Sussex make the choice to spend the holidays away from the royal family.
It’s tradition for all royals to spend Christmas together
The entire family gathering at Sandringham has been a long-running tradition with the royals. In fact, after she married Prince Charles, Princess Diana never spent the holiday with the Spencers.
The queen enjoys having all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a few other relatives stay at the home with her. But lately given their growing family, it gets so packed that several members have to sleep in the staff quarters since Sandringham is not as large as other royal residences.
As one former staffer said, “There are so many people staying that some of the minor royals have to sleep in what would normally be staff accommodation. Some of the servants have to make do with cottages on the estate or digs in surrounding villages.”
So why were Markle and Harry able to skip out on staying this year?
The Duchess of Cambridge has done this before
While staying at the Norfolk property has been a royal tradition, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are not the first permitted to spend the holiday elsewhere and they can thank Middleton for that.
Prince William and his wife have alternated Christmases with the Windsors and Middletons in the past. The first time was in 2012 when Middleton was pregnant with Prince George and they chose to skip the Sandringham festivities to visit the duchess’ family in Berkshire.
Because they had done so previously made it easier for Markle and Harry to solidify their plans to stay in California over Christmas with the queen’s approval.
Where William and Middleton are spending Christmas this year
While Markle and Harry’s son, baby Archie, won’t be with Her Majesty this year the queen’s other great-grandchildren will be. Royal expert Kate Nicholl revealed that the Cambridges are spending the holiday with William’s family.
“I imagine that spending Christmas at Sandringham with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be something [the queen is] very much looking forward to,” Nicholl said. “So Kate and William are doing the dutiful thing and putting the royal family first.”
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