It’s official: the Duke and Duchess of Sussex won’t be celebrating Christmas with the Queen this year.
A spokesperson for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle confirmed to CNN that the royal couple will spend the holidays with Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, instead.
The decision is a break from tradition as the Queen typically hosts Christmas at the Sandringham estate every year. The monarch is joined by other members of the Royal Family, and everyone attends a Christmas Day service at Sandringham Church.
For the last two years, Markle and Prince Harry have joined the Queen at her country estate.
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) December 25, 2016
As reported by CNN, the spokesperson said the couple’s decision “is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family and has the support of Her Majesty The Queen.”
The spokesperson would not confirm where Prince Harry and Markle would spend the holiday season, citing privacy reasons. This means they could spend time with Ragland in the U.S. or the U.K.
Markle’s mom is currently based in L.A.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are not the first royal couple to spend Christmas without the Queen.
In 2016, Prince William and Kate Middleton spent the holidays with Middleton’s family. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge brought along their young children, George and Charlotte.
There’s been speculation that Markle and Prince Harry may be planning a move to the U.S., which has been fuelled by rumours that the couple isn’t close with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
In a recently released documentary, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, Prince Harry addressed his relationship with his big brother.
“Inevitably, stuff happens, but we’re brothers. We’ll always be brothers,” the 35-year-old said.
“We’re certainly on different paths at the moment. I’ll always be there for him, and as I know, he’ll always be there for me. We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we’re so busy, but I love him dearly.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex formally parted ways from the charity foundation they shared with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in June, just months after they created their own household.
The couple has also been vocal about the pressures of living in the spotlight as members of the Royal Family and have even taken legal action against British tabloids.
It is unclear if they plan to spend more time in the U.S., where Markle was raised, in the near future.
— With a file from Global News’ Meaghan Wray
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