Meghan and her husband Prince Harry will be spending Christmas in California this year — a world away from the custom royal Christmas in Sandringham estate, Norfolk. The pair relocated to the US a few months ago and have since bought their first home together in Santa Barbara. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also ducked out of the royal Christmas last year as they decided to extend their trip to Canada across the festive season.
Meghan did spend both 2017 and 2018’s festive seasons with the rest of the royals — but may have struggled with the extensive list of royal traditions and the intensely organised day, according to some royal commentators.
Channel 4’s ‘A Very Royal Christmas: Sandringham Secrets’ explored the military-style operation of the day, which is planned five months in advance and sees the vast majority of the extended Royal Family get together.
However, the programme’s narrator asked: “With all the royal rules and traditions, does the Sandringham Christmas ever get too much?”
Royal commentator Richard Kay claimed: “I imagine it must have been an incredible ordeal for Meghan, being introduced [to the family], not just having to get used to these sort of foreign traditions, but then the whole obligations that come with celebrating with the Royal Family where everything has to be just so.”
He added: “She would have been very worried, I’m sure, about putting a foot wrong.”
Yet, she is not the only royal who grew up with a different experience of Christmas, and who may have struggled to adjust.
Princess Diana reportedly disliked royal Christmases too, and said she would often be “climbing the walls” at the end of the festive season.
She used to try and spend as much time in her room as she could to avoid the customs and traditions.
Kate Middleton also revealed she was very nervous about what to buy the Queen as a present when she spent her first Christmas at Sandringham.
Speaking in a documentary to celebrate the monarch’s 90th birthday, she said: “I can remember being at Sandringham, for the first time, at Christmas.
“And I was worried about what to give the Queen as her Christmas present.
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The Daily Star Online claimed this toy left the Queen in “hysterics”, especially when the corgis decided to try and grab it.
In between these lighter moments though, there may be “moments of stress”.
Royal commentator Katie Nicholl said: “I can imagine that as joyful and wonderful as it undoubtedly is, there will probably be moments of stress and tension for members of the Royal Family.
“After all, they’re not in their own home and they are doing everything understandably so, by the Queen’s book of a royal Christmas.”
The narrator noted: “For many new additions marrying into the Royal Family, operation Christmas has been testing.”
For instance, the royals are expected to change outfits up to five times on Christmas Day — for breakfast, the 11am church service, for lunch, for the afternoon walk and for the evening meal.
Protocol and precedence still remain in place even during this special time of year, as the royals cannot go to bed until the Queen does, even on Christmas Day.
However, this year is set to be a much more low-key affair.
The Queen will be spending her first Christmas away from Sandringham since 1988, as she and Prince Philip respect the Government’s rules.
Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex will join the monarch’s bubble along with their two children, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount James Severn.