This holiday season will mark Meghan Markle’s first as an official member of the royal family, and the season is shaping up to be a family affair as the Queen has reportedly invited Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, to stay for Christmas.
According to the Daily Mail, the Queen has asked Ragland to join the family at their Norfolk estate for the holiday, an invitation that has reportedly never been extended to Kate Middleton’s family. The Queen usually spends Christmas and New Year’s at her Sandringham estate, with members of her family often joining her.
The queen is quite strict about whom she allows to spend the holidays at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk — even Kate Middleton wasn’t invited to participate in royal holiday activities at Sandringham until after she married Prince William in 2011, despite years of dating. But last year, Meghan was allowed to spend the holidays at Sandringham, even though she and Prince Harry were only engaged at that point.
A source told the Sunday Express that the invitation was a “very thoughtful gesture” and would both show respect and acknowledge the fact that Markle does not have any family in Britain.
Ragland previously attended an event to launch a cookbook Markle was involved in, and she was also the only member of Markle’s family to attend her wedding to Prince Harry in May.
In addition to being her first as a royal, the holiday will also be Markle’s first as an expectant mother, as the Duchess of Sussex is currently pregnant with her first child with Harry.
According to PEOPLE, Markle will take part in activities including exchanging gifts, holiday meals and even a game of soccer.
The royal family reportedly exchanges gifts on Christmas Eve, though extravagant presents aren’t in the cards here. Instead, the royals give silly gifts — one year, Middleton reportedly even gave Harry a plastic Grow Your Own Girlfriend kit.
Also on Christmas Eve, William and Harry are usually on hand to play a charity soccer match on the estate, which is followed by dinner.On Christmas Day, the family attends Christmas services at St. Mary Magdalene church, which are followed by a Christmas Day meal featuring a Norfolk turkey as the main attraction.