Meghan Markle to join Prince Harry, royal family for Christmas Day service at Sandringham

PHOTO: Britains Prince Harry poses with his fiancee Meghan Markle during a photocall after announcing their engagement in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in London, Nov. 27, 2017.PlayMax Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
WATCH Meghan Markle will join Prince Harry for Christmas Day service

Meghan Markle will join Prince Harry and other members of the royal family at Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth's estate, on Christmas Day, Kensington Palace said today.

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"You can expect to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms. Markle at Sandringham on Christmas Day," a Kensington Palace spokeswoman said.

PHOTO: Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle during an official photocall to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace on Nov. 27, 2017 in London.Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle during an official photocall to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace on Nov. 27, 2017 in London.

The Duchess of Cambridge did not attend Christmas services at Sandringham in 2010 when she was still engaged to Prince William. She spent Christmas with her family before her wedding to William the next year.

Other royal fiances have traditionally not attended either. Mike Tindall, the husband of Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter, Zara Philips, also did not join the royal family for Christmas before the couple married.

Markle, 36, and Harry, 33, announced their engagement Nov. 27, and, just a few days later, attended their first official engagement as a newly engaged couple in Nottingham, England. The couple plans to wed at Windsor Castle next May.

PHOTO: Britains Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrive at the Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair, in Nottingham, England, Dec. 1, 2017.Alastair Grant/AP
Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrive at the Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair, in Nottingham, England, Dec. 1, 2017.

Neither Buckingham Palace nor Kensington Palace has confirmed whether Markle and Harry will participate in the other three days of activities with Queen Elizabeth at Sandringham. The royal family traditionally gathers for gifts on Christmas Eve, lunch and dinner on Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day shoot.

Markle and Harry will be seen in public with other royals when they attend the traditional Christmas Day church service on the queen’s private estate in Norfolk. Buckingham Palace has said Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family will join the congregation for the Christmas morning service at St. Mary Magdalene Church.

PHOTO: A view of The Church of St Mary Magdalene on Queen Elizabeth IIs Sandringham Estate, June 5, 2015, in Norfolk, England. Radcliffe/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
A view of The Church of St Mary Magdalene on Queen Elizabeth II's Sandringham Estate, June 5, 2015, in Norfolk, England.

Markle called Queen Elizabeth "an incredible woman" in her first joint interview with Harry after their engagement announcement last month.

"It's incredible, I think, to be able to meet her through his lens, not just with the honor and respect he has for her as the monarch but the love that he has for her as his grandmother," Markle said. "All of those layers have been so important for me so that when I met her, I had such a deep understanding and, of course, incredible respect, for being able to have that time with her.

Added Harry with a smile, "And the corgis took to her straight away," referring to Queen Elizabeth's beloved dogs.

Markle and Harry are expected to stay with Prince William and Princess Kate, both 35, at their Anmer Hall home during the three-day-long celebration. William recently gave Santa Claus a Christmas list from his 4-year-old son, Prince George, with a request for a police car and a note that he’d been "nice" this year.

Markle and Harry will be invited to the festivities watching George and his 2-year-old sister, Princess Charlotte, who love the Christmas holiday.

PHOTO: Britains Prince William, right, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive with Prince George, center, and Princess Charlotte to attend a Christmas Day service at St Marks Church in Englefield on Dec. 25, 2016. Andrew Matthews/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Prince William, right, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive with Prince George, center, and Princess Charlotte to attend a Christmas Day service at St Mark's Church in Englefield on Dec. 25, 2016.

On Christmas Eve, the Royal Family heads to Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth’s 20,000-acre estate in Norfolk where they open gifts in the German tradition the night before.

Expensive gifts are frowned upon. Rather, members of the family will often swap funny gifts. Kate reportedly made homemade jam one year as gifts for her royal relatives.

Also on Christmas Eve, some members of the royal family take part in an annual festive soccer match with workers and locals in the area. William and Harry usually play on opposite teams. They did not join in last year, but Harry and James Middleton, Kate's brother, joined for the game at Castle Rising on a pitch near Lord Grenville Howard’s 12th-century estate. Kate's brother filled in for William, who had injured his ankle.

On Christmas Day, the royal family makes the 300-yard walk to St. Mary Magdalene Church, where Princess Charlotte was christened in 2015.

PHOTO: Savannah Phillips, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Princess Eugenie and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attend a Christmas Day church service at Sandringham, Dec. 25, 2016 in Kings Lynn, England.Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Savannah Phillips, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Princess Eugenie and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attend a Christmas Day church service at Sandringham, Dec. 25, 2016 in King's Lynn, England.

The small stone church dating back to the 16th century sees Queen Elizabeth every Sunday when she’s in residence at Sandringham. Prince Philip typically takes the brisk walk with the rest of the members of the royal family while the Queen arrives in her chauffeured car from Sandringham.

After the service, the royal family greets well-wishers outside the church on Christmas Day before heading back to Sandringham for Christmas lunch. Lunch is traditional with local Norfolk roast turkey from the region, a salad with shrimp or lobster and vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips.

After lunch, the entire family sits down to watch the queen's annual televised Christmas message.

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth II sits at a desk in the Regency Room after recording her Christmas Day broadcast to the Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace, Dec. 24, 2016, in London.Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II sits at a desk in the Regency Room after recording her Christmas Day broadcast to the Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace, Dec. 24, 2016, in London.

In the evening, the royal family gathers again for a Christmas buffet dinner with 15 to 20 different delicacies prepared by Queen Elizabeth’s chef. A toast is part of the meal, which ranges from roast beef to turkey and ham.

In past years, William and Kate have sometimes opted out of the Christmas dinner so they can enjoy Christmas evening with Kate's parents, Carole and Mike Middleton, her sister, Pippa Middleton, her brother-in-law, James Matthews, and her brother, James Middleton, with whom she is very close.

On Dec. 26, the royal family enjoys a traditional pheasant shoot at Sandringham. Royal girlfriends have been included in the past.

After Christmas, Markle and Harry are expected to take a holiday. Kensington Palace has confirmed Markle will take some time off before the wedding to see her friends and family in the United States.

PHOTO: Britains Prince Harry poses with his fiancee Meghan Markle during a photocall after announcing their engagement in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in London, Nov. 27, 2017.Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
Britain's Prince Harry poses with his fiancee Meghan Markle during a photocall after announcing their engagement in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in London, Nov. 27, 2017.

They are starting to slowly make plans for their May 2018 wedding at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, with planning expected to really pick up in the New Year.

Kensington Palace also announced that Markle will join the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry once she weds Harry. She will give up her charitable work with World Vision and as a United Nations advocate for women to focus on the U.K. charities that William, Kate and Harry support.

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