The royal family traditionally gathers for Christmas alongside the Queen at Sandringham House – her Maj’s country estate in Norfolk. But will 2019 mark a break in convention?
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have confirmed they’ll be spending their first Christmas with their son Archie in Canada. It’s not so unusual, considering Prince William and Kate Middleton skipped Sandringham for a quiet celebration with the Middleton’s in 2016.
A spokesperson from the royal press office told HuffPost UK it does not confirm which members of the family will be in attendance at Sandringham in advance – but that doesn’t stop the speculation.
The Cambridge’s are expected to spend Christmas with the Queen this year. Rumours suggest it could be Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s first public appearance at Sandringham. The children haven’t previously walked to St Mary Magdalene Church with the rest of the family, but a source told the Sun they’ll be joining their parents for the first time “as long as they’re both on good form on the day”.
Prince Philip left hospital on Christmas Eve, after a planned admission over the weekend, and is believed to be spending Christmas with the Queen at Sandringham.
And what about Prince Andrew? The Duke of York is usually seen with the royals as they make their way from Sandringham House to the church, but he’s said he’ll “step back from public duties” in light of his association with Jeffrey Epstein. Does waving to the crowds at Christmas count?
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson told The Sunday Times: “The Duke of York is still a part of the royal family and you can expect to see him at family occasions.” The statement has led to widespread speculation that the Duke will be present on Christmas Day.
Looking at previous years, other likely guests spending the day with the Queen and Prince Phillip include Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
In 2018, crowds also saw Princess Eugenie with her new husband, Jack Brooksbank – so in 2019, there’s a chance they’ll be accompanied by Princess Beatrice and her fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, who are set to tie the knot this year.
Other past guests have included the queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, with son Peter Phillips and daughter Zara Tindall – along with their respective spouses Autumn Phillips and Mike Tindall. Plus the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, with his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
It’s quite the crowd to host, but we’re sure the Queen will have plenty of help – plus her favourite Christmas tipple while settling down to do her speech.