A spokesperson confirmed to multiple outlets that the family of three would enjoy a more intimate celebration rather than heading to Sandringham, the queen’s 20,000-acre Jacobethan estate in Norfolk.
“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’s mother Doria Ragland,” they told the Mirror. “This decision is in line with the precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family, and has the support of Her Majesty The Queen.”
The announcement comes after weeks of speculation on how the couple was to spend the holidays. Some reports suggested the couple was expected to fly to the United States for Thanksgiving, but return to the U.K. for Christmas. Others said they were to spend the duration of November and December with Meghan’s side of the family.
The statement does not clarify on which side of the pond, exactly, the couple will be. Perhaps they will be in the Duchess of Sussex’s hometown of Los Angeles, or perhaps Ragland will make the trip to Frogmore Cottage.
Christmas at Sandringham is a festive yet regimented affair, which includes an afternoon tea, a highly photographed church service, and a formal Christmas lunch in the Red Drawing room.
As the spokesperson noted, it’s not unprecedented for family members to miss a Sandringham Christmas. Prince William and Kate Middleton, for example, have spent the holidays at the Middleton family home in Bucklebury. Plus, the Sussexes don’t see Markle’s family nearly as much as Prince Harry’s—they do live on the grounds of Windsor Castle after all. Not to mention that most married couples wrestle with the same decision year after year—whose side do we visit for Christmas? Yet, with persistent rumors of tension within the royal family, the couple’s decision seems to have been given more public attention than usual.