Royalty#80

Joke gifts and afternoon tea: how the Sussexes and Cambridges will spend their frost-free Christmas

Anmer Hall, Norfolk, Britain
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How fitting that Prince Charles is to deliver a “reflection” on forgiveness and reconciliation at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday. The trivial matter of his offspring’s domestic disharmony will no doubt be far from the heir to the throne’s mind as he takes to the pulpit to deliver what promises to be a heartfelt speech on Christian persecution in the Middle East. But in this time of peace and goodwill, the so-called Fab Four would be wise to “reflect” on the central theme of the future king’s message. For if anyone understands the consequence of family friction it is Charles, whose difficult relationship with his parents, his brother Prince Andrew and indeed his ex-wife have been well documented. Not that a comparison to the so-called War of the Wales is merited in relation to recent reports concerning a froideur between the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex. As the Telegraph reported last week, while a postnatal Kate was left in tears following a bridesmaids fitting with Princess Charlotte in the build-up to May’s royal wedding, reports of a “ghastly row” with Meghan last Christmas appear wide of the mark. Now the royals’ Christmas is already looking far less frosty than had been billed after palace sources confirmed that the Cambridges and the Sussexeswill spend Christmas together at Sandringham. The Telegraph can further reveal that the couples are both expected to stay at Anmer Hall, William and Kate’s Norfolk bolthole on the Queen’s Sandringham estate, suggesting that any feud is fast fizzling out. An insider said: “Harry and Meghan really enjoyed staying at Anmer Hall last year, especially spending quality time with Prince George and Princess Charlotte and there’s no reason why they won’t want to do the same this year, especially as Meghan is going to be heavily pregnant. It’s the best of both worlds in that they can take part in all the festivities at the big house, while retreating into their own space when needed. There would be total astonishment if Harry and Meghan don’t stay with William and Kate.” Another source said: “No one is going to be kicking up a fuss about Christmas. Both couples know how important it is to HM and Prince Philip for the whole family to be together. Now they are in their 90s, the festivities tend to revolve around the Queen and the Duke spending as much time as possible with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” There is also a practical reason why the Sussexes may want to spend a second year running with Kate and William: space. Sandringham House is small by royal standards and its quarters are said to be “cramped”, with sources likening Christmas guests to being “packed in like sardines”. With more than 30 attendees this year thanks to many of the younger royals starting their own families, some will be told they have to share bedrooms, move to cottages on the estate or even sleep in servants’ quarters. Much like the Victorian splendour of the house itself, the traditions of the royal Christmas have changed little since Sandringham first became the private home of Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, in 1862. First, guests are told what time they should arrive at Sandringham — most junior royals first, most senior last — with everyone expected to be changed into suitable outfits for afternoon tea in the White Drawing Room at 4pm. The Queen then invites her great grandchildren to add the final decorations to the Christmas tree as the royals enjoy home-baked scones and a cup of Earl Grey. This is the moment they also exchange presents — not on Christmas Day, which the Queen regards as a religious festival. Trestle tables are laid out in the nearby Red Drawing Room, with sections marked off with tape showing where each family member’s gifts should be placed — again, laid out in order of precedence.

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