Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Reportedly Won’t Spend Christmas with the Royals Because of Harry’s Book Drama

Tensions are apparently too high over the memoir, due out two weeks after the holiday.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
(Image credit: Getty)

The most wonderful time of the year may not be so wonderful this year when it comes to relations between members of the royal family.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will not be spending Christmas with the royal family amidst ongoing tensions over Harry’s forthcoming memoir, Spare, set to be released just days after the holiday on January 10, 2023. (Interestingly, though likely unrelated, the day after Kate Middleton’s forty-first birthday.)

This will be the royal family’s first Christmas without their beloved matriarch, Queen Elizabeth, who died in September. It will be King Charles’ first Christmas on the throne, and the holiday will presumably be spent at Sandringham, a longstanding tradition for the family.

The Sun reports that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have “no plans” to return to the U.K., and one insider says relations between the couple and the rest of the family are believed to be at “near rock bottom” as the contents of the memoir loom. (To be fair, it’s been years since Harry and Meghan spent Christmas at Sandringham, so this isn’t a totally shocking concept.) The book’s unflinching title, Spare—an obvious nod to the complex heir and spare dynamic between him and brother Prince William—apparently left the royal family “completely caught by surprise” when it was released this week.

“Being the ‘spare’ is still at the forefront of his mind all these years later, and he clearly feels belittled by it,” says Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine and a longtime royal expert.

Royal author Tom Bower tells The Sun that the timing of the book’s release is “very calculated”—it will be released three years nearly to the day that Harry and Meghan announced their intention to step back as working members of the royal family.

“This book is really make or break,” he says. “I imagine that King Charles has been warned that any retaliation won’t be pretty. All that King Charles can really do is to withhold the titles for his grandchildren Archie and Lilibet. Ultimately, I suppose, he could take away Harry and Meghan’s titles as well, but that’s pretty drastic. I don’t know what else he can do. If it is as bad as I think it is, then Harry and Meghan have gone fully rogue. The best the family can do is to break ties with them.”

Bower points out that Spare is poised to have a global reach, set to be translated into 16 languages.

“It’ll do enormous damage to the reputation of the royal family across the world,” he says.

On the home front, an insider says the tell-all “could spell the end for any relationship Harry wants to have with his family. It’s desperately sad. Everyone is bracing themselves for yet another fraught and frantic period at the mercy of the Sussexes.”

Nothing like a dash of family drama alongside the eggnog and Christmas pudding.

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.