The royal family is gearing up for their first holiday season since the death of Queen Elizabeth II. For the family, Christmas has traditionally been a time where they all come together at their Sandringham country estate and royal watchers are wondering if King Charles III will stay true to the tradition in his parent's absence.
"Christmas is always a really special time for the royal family," royal expert Katie Nicholl told ET. "They do traditionally come together and that has always been at Sandringham and my understanding is that King Charles III is going to follow his mother's tradition and host a family Christmas at Sandringham this year."
Charles and Camila, Queen Consort, will most likely be joined by Prince William, Kate Middleton, their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, as well as other members of the family.
The King has also extended an invitation to Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and their children, Archie and Lilibet, Nicholl said, but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex may choose to spend the holiday in California.
"Harry and Meghan have been invited for Christmas," Nicholl noted. "But it's our understanding that they weren't coming over to the U.K. They will be spending the holiday season in California."
The last time the duke and duchess joined the royal family was in 2018. The pair joined Queen Elizabeth, a then Prince Charles, William and Kate for church at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham. Ahead of the service, the younger members of the royal family did a walkabout to greet guests. The queen's family also joined her for an annual holiday party and lunch -- held before the royal family Christmas -- which she hosted every year at Buckingham Palace as a thank you to staff.
In 2019, Harry and Meghan did not attend the service, as they announced they would be taking "extended family time" off from royal duties from Thanksgiving and into the new year. The couple and Archie spent Christmas with with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland. The statement at the time did confirm that they addressed their plans with the Queen.
William and Kate have also skipped family time at Sandringham in order to spend the holiday with the Middleton family on numerous occasions -- since their marriage in 2011.
The last time the family was seen together -- in full -- was during Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in September. Following the services, Harry and Meghan returned to California, while Charles, William and Kate remained home in the U.K. and began work in their respective new positions.