Next week will mark the two year anniversary of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s announcement of their decision to step down as senior royals. They have spent their second Christmas in California with Archie, two, and their first as a family of four since the birth of their daughter Lilibet in June. They revealed little Lili to the world for the first time in their Christmas card, featuring a picture of the happy family.
Their quiet Christmas as a family will have been far different to the rigid protocol of a traditional Sandringham Christmas with the Royal Family.
The Sandringham festivities were cancelled by the Queen this year due to rising cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, opting to stay at Windsor Castle and celebrate with a smaller number of family members.
However, in most years the entire extended family have gathered together at the Queen’s Norfolk estate, each arriving in order of precedence.
Everything works like clockwork, from the gift-giving ceremony on Christmas Eve to the Boxing Day shoot.
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The Queen also has a heartbreaking post-Christmas tradition that she has been doing for decades.
She is always the last to leave Sandringham House, remaining there until February 6, which is the date of her father’s death in 1952 and hence her own accession to the throne.
On that day nearly 70 years ago, the Queen found out her father had died of coronary thrombosis at Sandringham aged just 56, while she was in Kenya on a royal tour.
She marks the day in private before returning to her duties at Buckingham Palace.
Meghan, unfortunately, does not enjoy the close relationship with her father that the Queen did.
While she lived with her father when she was young, after her parents’ divorce, she has become estranged from him in recent years.
Meanwhile, Harry admitted that his relationship with his father Prince Charles has been under strain in his interview with Oprah Winfrey last year.
This year, it is unclear whether the Queen will leave the decorations up at Windsor Castle for as long as she leaves them up at Sandringham.
Her Majesty will be welcoming in the New Year tonight without her beloved husband Prince Philip for the first time since their wedding in 1947.
She addressed her loss in her Christmas Day broadcast, saying: “Although it’s a time of great happiness and good cheer for many, Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones.
“This year especially I can understand why.
“But for me, in the months since the death of my beloved Philip, I have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes to his life and work from around the country, the Commonwealth and the world.
“His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze the fun out of any situation were all irrepressible.
“That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him.”