The royal family’s Christmas dinner is going to look a little different this year thanks to one special addition. And no, we aren’t talking about Meghan Markle. We’re talking about her mom.
According to reports, Queen Elizabeth extended a very special invitation to Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, to join the family for their traditional Christmas celebrations at their estate at the Sandringham House, which is located in Norfolk, about 110 miles North of London.
Though it may seem entirely normal to host new in-laws over for the holidays, this invitation is truly something special as non-royals never celebrate Christmas at Sandringham. And that includes Kate Middleton’s parents, who have never been invited.
"It's a mark of the Queen's respect for Meghan and an acknowledgment that she doesn't have any other relations in this country — unlike Kate who has the support of a very close family," a source told the Express about the unusual invite.
But, as Bustle noted, it’s not to say the Middleton’s aren’t part of the celebration at all. They can — and have — joined the family for church services before, but simply stay overnight somewhere else.
As for what Doria can expect from the royal Christmas, things really are pretty normal over at the Windsors. As Travel+Leisure previously reported, the family typically arrives on Christmas Eve for a fairly average, non-public celebration.
“Unlike all the other residences except apart from Balmoral, Sandringham is owned by the Queen privately, it's her own private home," Helen Walch, Sandringham Estate's public enterprise manager, previously told the Telegraph. "Unlike say Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, which are official residences of the monarch, this is her quiet country retreat.”
There, the family partakes in a traditional Christmas Eve dinner before exchanging gifts. They try to also keep it light by only exchanging gag gifts with one another, because really, what more does a royal need?
The family then wakes up and walks over to St Mary Magdalene for church services, heads home for lunch, then enjoys their time together before heading back to their respective homes. Really, it’s just like your holiday celebrations, but, you know, with the Queen.