In Between a Rock and a Hard Place, King Charles Might Have the Solution to See Both of His Sons Over the Holidays

Here’s what we know about Prince William, Prince Harry, and Christmas at Sandringham.

Prince William Kate Middleton Meghan Markle Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the latest edition of Will They or Won’t They?: Sussex Edition, the question on the table is this: will Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and their two children Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet attend Christmas at Sandringham? Headlines are everywhere, some saying yes, some saying no. 

Tatler reports that Harry “is reported to like the idea of returning to the U.K. for Christmas and would be unlikely to decline an invitation to spend the festive season with his father [King Charles]. However, so far, no offer has been shared with the Sussexes.” That said, it does seem as though the offer has been extended to Queen Camilla’s family, as her five grandchildren are reportedly on the invite list for the first time (as well as, of course, her two children, Tom and Laura). As such, the location of the traditional royal family Christmas lunch will likely have to be changed to accommodate the larger headcount. “The addition of the Queen’s family means extra space is needed,” a source said. Hello reports that the lunch will reportedly be served in the larger ballroom at Sandringham rather than the dining room, as has been tradition. 

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry

William, Kate, Meghan, and Harry at Christmas at Sandringham in 2018

(Image credit: Getty)

Per The Daily Mail, the King “has made it clear that Harry—and his family—are welcome to stay on royal property if they come to the U.K.” A source said of Christmas that “plans are normally nailed down by now, as Sandringham isn’t a particularly big place, and there’s not a lot of room for the entire extended family. It would be surprising for the Sussexes not to have received an invitation by now if there was going to be one. New Year in Scotland would be more likely. But, as with anything to do with Harry and Meghan, let’s face it, anything can happen.”

Amidst ongoing tension between Harry and brother Prince William, the compromise seems to be, according to multiple outlets, that William and his family of five will join Charles for Christmas at Sandringham, while Harry and his family of four could join Charles for New Year’s in Scotland while the Wales family heads to their country home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk. “It would certainly have the advantage of killing two birds with one stone, extending an olive branch to one son without causing difficulty to the other,” The Mirror reports. 

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry at Christmas 2017

William, Kate, Meghan, and Harry at Christmas at Sandringham  in 2017

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Harry and Meghan haven’t been to Christmas at Sandringham since 2018. Relationship expert Louella Alderson said that those around the Sussexes will ensure they have a “special holiday season,” but that “it’s possible that Harry may feel a sense of loneliness during the holiday season, especially if he is house hunting in the U.K. and has a desire to spend Christmas in the U.K. this year,” Alderson told The Mirror. “Being homesick and missing British traditions and celebrations could make the holiday periods more difficult fro him. It’s also possible that he may choose to return to the U.K. for a visit at a later time when tensions have eased and it feels right for him. Ultimately, while Christmas in America may be a different experience for Harry, he will still have people who care about him and make sure he has a special holiday season.”

While on the red carpet last week for Variety’s Power of Women event in L.A., Meghan spoke to E! News about her holiday traditions with Archie and Lili: “We’re creating new ones now that our little ones are growing up,” she said. “And we’re enjoying every moment of it.” One tradition in particular she enjoys? “I love trimming and decorating the tree with my children,” Meghan said. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend an engagement together in 2017

(Image credit: Getty)

Royal expert Jennie Bond said, per OK, “Harry’s absence from the celebrations at Sandringham will be painfully obvious. Little Archie and Lilibet should be running around with their many cousins, pulling crackers, opening presents, and understanding their place in the family, connecting with their relatives even though their lives are thousands of miles away.”

Though maybe not this year, royal expert Katie Nicholl said that Palace insiders hope to see William and Harry find common ground again someday: “Everyone wants to see a repair in the rift because it doesn’t do anyone any good to have this rift in the heart of the House of Windsor,” Nicholl said. “I spoke to aides, past and present—including one senior aide who worked with the brothers for a good 10 years, who knows them both and still speaks to them both. And he was surprisingly confident that there could be a rapprochement.”

Prince William and Prince Harry

(Image credit: Getty)

After all, according to The Sunday Times’ royal editor Roya Nikkhah, “Believe it or not, the Waleses and the Sussexes are exchanging Christmas gifts this year,” she said ahead of Christmas last year, per The Sun. “In the absence of goodwill between the couples, William and Kate will not deprive Archie and Lilibet of a present under the tree. And in one royal tradition that Team Sussex is still on board with, Harry and Meghan have also dispatched gifts for George, Charlotte, and Louis.” However, Nikkhah added, “There will be no presents exchanged between the adults.”

All of this is heretofore conjecture, of course, but, per The Daily Express, for what it’s worth, if the invitation to Christmas at Sandringham does come, Harry and Meghan would be “happy to accept.” 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.