While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are skipping Christmas at Sandringham this year, it seems they will also be missing other key royal holiday affairs: the Queen’s annual holiday party and lunch. According to reports, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be joining Her Majesty at her soirée on Monday evening, which she holds every year at Buckingham Palace to thank her staff. A source told the Daily Mail that Archie Harrison’s parents had informed the Queen, who is understanding of the situation.
“As the couple made clear a few weeks ago, they are taking some time away together as a family,” the source added. “This means that they will miss Christmas events.”
Aside from the Queen’s party on Monday, it’s likely that the Duke and Duchess will also miss Her Majesty’s pre-Christmas lunch with her extended family this week. Harry and Meghan have attended in previous years. Per the Daily Mail, the former American actress and her Prince have no plans to return to the UK until the New Year. Harry and Meghan have been enjoying a break from royal duties since November following months of intense media scrutiny. It’s believed that the Sussexes have taken their seven-month-old son abroad to see Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, who resides in Los Angeles.
It was announced in early November that Archie would not be celebrating his first Christmas with his great-grandmother, the Queen. Instead, Meghan and Harry’s son will ring in the holiday with his maternal grandmother. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time towards the end of this month. Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, [the couple] will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess’ mother Doria,” a palace spokesperson said. “This decision is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family, and has the support of Her Majesty The Queen.”
Harry has spent every Christmas with Queen Elizabeth, except in 2012 when he was in Afghanistan. Meghan has also celebrated the holiday at Sandringham for the past two years. The couple’s decision to forgo the holiday with the royals this year isn’t very surprising given that Prince William and Kate Middleton alternate Christmas between the royals and the Middletons.