Christmas is going to be a little different this year for the royal family as this will mark their first holiday season without Queen Elizabeth.
This year, the British royals will reunite for the first time in two years after celebrating Christmas separately due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It marks the first holiday King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will host under their new titles. A former palace staffer told People, “It will be hard, as the Queen was all they knew, like most of Britain.” And a former member of the queen’s staff added, “The first year is most difficult, as it is always the first of everything that you notice.”
This year, the family will once again gather at their Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England, the country home where the former monarch traditionally spent the winter season. It’s expected that the king’s siblings, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, Prince Andrew, and their families will all visit the home for Christmas, as will Prince William, his wife Princess Kate, and their three, young children. King Charles will also deliver his first Christmas broadcast, a holiday tradition, during which he is expected to reflect on the death of his mother. And the former palace staffer confirmed that this year’s speech is sure to, “resonate with a lot of people who have lost loved ones this year.” The family will also keep up a few other holiday traditions started by the queen, including exchanging gag gifts on Christmas Eve and walking to the local church on Christmas morning.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are not expected to join their family in the UK for Christmas, however, in an episode of their Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan, the Duke of Sussex reflected on the fond feelings he has for that estate. “I have such happy memories of Sandringham—it was where we spent every Christmas — and now I was back there in very different circumstances,” Harry recalled of going there for a meeting with his grandmother, father, and brother following his decision to step back from his role as a senior royal.
In January, Harry also plans to release his memoir, Spare, which he previously delayed the publication of out of respect for the passing of his grandmother. Many within the monarchy are bracing for a media storm on par with that surrounding the Sussexes’ Oprah interview, but according to yet another close royal insider, “It is not straightforward and clear cut.” They added, “Some of the issues [Meghan and Harry] have raised are important, and I think both sides probably recognize that.” They also noted that it is possible for a lot of positive change to come out all of this, but it “will only happen if there is a conversation.”
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