Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, is just weeks away from spending her first Christmas with the royal family.
In an unprecedented move, the Queen has extended an invitation for Ragland to join senior members of the royal family for three days of holiday festivities at Sandringham House. The invite is believed by royal insiders to be a sign of the Queen’s affection for Markle, who doesn’t have any family in England.
In an interview with Grazia magazine, Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, gave a rundown of what Ragland can expect during her time with the royals.
According to Seward, Ragland will arrive with the rest of the family on Christas Eve at Sandringham, the Queen’s private estate in Norfolk, for three days filled with family activities, lots of wardrobe changes and, as expected, plenty of rules to follow.
“After her luggage is unloaded, there will be a present-giving ceremony after tea,” Seward said, noting that there will be nothing informal about the festivities. Gifts will be opened in order of precedence but don’t expect the Windsors to be exchanging pricey designer goods. “There are mainly useful things, such as homemade jams, china or curios bought from county fairs.”
Rumour has it that Prince Harry once gifted his grandmother a shower cap that read, “Ain’t life a bitch.” Last year, during her first holiday with the monarch, Markle gifted the Queen a singing hamster.
“Then it will be lethal martinis and a black-tie dinner,” Seward explained, noting that the Queen comes up with a seating chart for dinner. “There’s a really careful old-fashioned placement… It’s always boy-girl, boy-girl.”
On Christmas Day, the royals attend church at 11 a.m. before returning for lunch, where everyone gathers for a traditional carving of the turkey, Christmas crackers. Oh, and and everyone (except the Queen) is expected to wear their paper hats.
After lunch, it’s time for the Queen’s televised speech and a “brisk walk” around the grounds to “make room for more food.” Christmas tea is followed by a short siesta before dinner, giving guests plenty of time to gear up for another luxurious meal.
Like most families, Christmas with the royals revolves around eating — and there’s one royal tradition that the Queen still follows to ensure her guests are leaving with full stomachs.
Seward says that all guests are weighed on antique scales when they arrive at Sandringham and when they leave. The expert explained the tradition dates back to King Edward VII, who was known for his hearty appetite, and wanted to make sure that all of his guests were “well fed.”
Boxing Day for the family will be dedicated to a day of shooting but Seward reveals that Markle and Ragland will not be required to join “unless they want to.”
With another American among their ranks, Seward says the royals will most likely let it slide if Ragland flubs some royal protocol.
“It is unusual for an outsider to be invited, but the royal family does change,” she added. “I’m sure the royals will do everything in their power to make Doria feel at home.”