LONDON: Meghan Markle is to become the first fiancee invited to spend Christmas with the British royal family – a move hailed on Thursday as a sea change in the monarchy’s traditionalist attitude.
Prince Harry’s bride-to-be will join the royals at Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth II’s private estate in Norfolk, eastern England, where the royals traditionally spend their winter break.
The US actress, 36, will have to get used to the royal family’s quirky Christmas traditions – but commentators said the fact she has been invited at all shows the confidence they have in her.
Markle and Harry, fifth in line to the throne, are due to tie the knot in May in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
The couple will live in Harry’s cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace, home to his brother Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
A palace spokesman announced the Christmas news on Wednesday.
“You can expect to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms Markle at Sandringham on Christmas Day,” he said.
It is understood that Harry and his fiancee will stay with William and Kate at Anmer Hall, their home in the Sandringham grounds, rather than in the main house.
Harry and Markle, who announced their engagement on November 27, carried out their first joint public appearance on December 1.
The public will get another chance to meet Markle when the royals go to church for the Christmas Day service. Younger members of the family walk the short distance from the house.