The American actor, who is to get married to Prince Harry in May 2018, will join other members of the royal family at the traditional festivities, including the opening of presents on Christmas eve, The Sunday Times reports. The holiday festivities, which will include a black-tie dinner, a full English breakfast and a pheasant shoot, will include the 36-year-old bride-to-be after Harry reportedly requested the Queen to make an exception for Markle over Christmas.
The 33-year-old fifth in line to the throne had announced his marriage plans earlier this week. The couple are to be wed at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in May next year although they have not decided on the exact date. His fiance had relocated to London last month from Toronto, her home in Canada for the past seven years shooting for her long-running television legal drama Suits.
According to the newspaper, her pre-wedding Christmas invitation signals how fully the actor has been welcomed into the royal family after her 16-month romance with the prince. Kate Middleton was not invited to spend Christmas at the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, East Anglia, after her engagement to Prince William in November 2010 and instead had joined her parents at their home in Berkshire. Harry and Meghan are expected to join the Queen from Christmas Eve until Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, before holidaying abroad for the New Year. They are also understood to be planning to join Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, in California for part of the time.
A friend of Harry’s told the newspaper, “Now they are engaged it was unthinkable that they would be apart for Christmas. The royal family have fully welcomed Meghan into the fold.” It is thought the couple may stay with Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte at their family home of Anmer Hall on the Sandringham estate. The royal family traditionally gathers on Christmas Eve
for tea with the Queen, before the younger members are encouraged to put the finishing touches to the Christmas tree in the white drawing room.
Later the Queen’s guests exchange gifts before a formal black-tie dinner. On Christmas morning, after a full English breakfast, the royal family attend St Mary Magdalene Church on the estate, before returning to Sandringham House for Christmas lunch. Guests then gather to watch the Queen’s Christmas broadcast to the rest of the country at 3pm, which this year is expected to see her offer congratulations to Harry and his future bride.
On Boxing Day, guests traditionally take part in a pheasant shoot on the 20,000-acre estate, although Markle, who is thought to be opposed to blood sports, is unlikely to join in.