Christmas With The Royals: Here's What Doria Should Know Beforehand
By Katie Rosseinsky Posted on 5 Nov 2018
The Duchess of Sussex’s mother, Doria Ragland, is set to join the royal family at Sandringham over the Christmas holiday, according to new reports.
A senior royal source told the Sunday Express that the Queen has personally invited Doria to join the royals for their first family Christmas since Meghan and Harry tied the knot at Windsor Castle earlier this year, as a ‘mark of her respect’ for the Duchess.
They described the move, which is an unprecedented one for the family, as ‘a very thoughtful gesture,’ and one that would be ‘a mark of the Queen’s respect for Meghan and an acknowledgement that she doesn’t have any other relations in this country – unlike Kate [Middleton] who has the support of a very close family.’
Though Buckingham Palace have refused to confirm the reports, this invitation is certainly an unusual one. Though Prince William’s in-laws, the Middleton family, have previously joined the royals for the Christmas Day service, they have always stayed at Anmer Hall, the Cambridges’ country residence, rather than at Sandringham itself.
This year will mark Meghan’s second Christmas with her in-laws, albeit her first as an official member of the royal family. Last year, her presence at Sandringham was hailed as a departure from the usual strict royal protocol surrounding such visits: typically, partners of the royals have had to wait until after their marriage to receive a formal invitation from the Queen (indeed, the Duchess of Cambridge spent her first Christmas at Sandringham in 2011, following her wedding in April of that year).
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So, what can Doria expect from Christmas with The Firm? Guests (including the Queen’s children, grand-children and great-grant children) begin to arrive on the Norfolk estate from 23rd December, in strict order of precedence, with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall typically being the last to arrive. As the Cambridges’ country home is just a stone’s throw away, they tend not to stay at the ‘big house,’ but will join their family for the main festivities. Doria won’t, however, be the only newcomer: it’s highly likely that Jack Brooksbank will receive an invitation for the first time, following his wedding to Princess Eugenie in October.
Sticking to the old German tradition, the royals still open their gifts at tea time on Christmas Eve (controversial, we know), which will have been laid out in the Red Drawing Room in anticipation. The gifts in question are more likely to be small and thoughtful than big and expensive: the Duchess of Cambridge has previously revealed that one year, she made Her Majesty a batch of chutney from her grandmother’s recipe (so perhaps Meghan will whip up some more banana bread…) This will be followed by afternoon tea, then a formal sit-down dinner.
On the day itself, the royals will awaken to stockings filled with yet more gifts; then, after a full English, it’s time for the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate (aka the annual festive royal photo opportunity, where they’ll be greeted by local well-wishers). After that, the family will sit down for a classic Christmas dinner, followed by a communal viewing of the Queen’s Speech (of course).
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