11/13/2019 15:39 EST | Updated 11/13/2019 16:27 EST

Meghan Markle And Prince Harry Not Spending Christmas With Royal Family This Year

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are skipping Sandringham, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and little Archie are doing their own thing this Christmas. 

Buckingham Palace released a statement Wednesday saying the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be spending the holiday with the rest of the royal family this year. 

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time towards the end of this month,” the palace said, confirming a Sunday Times report in October that said the couple would be taking a royal sabbatical in November. 

“Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, Their Royal Highnesses will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess’ mother Doria Ragland,” the statement said. 

“This decision is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family, and has the support of Her Majesty The Queen,” the statement added, presumably to shield the couple, who have faced intense scrutiny from critics, from further drama. 

Pool/Samir Hussein via Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe during their royal tour of South Africa on Sept. 25. 

Prior to the announcement, multipleoutlets reported that the royals were likely going to skip the holiday. 

“The plans have not been finalized,” an anonymous source told Vanity Fair. “They will be in America for Thanksgiving later this month and there’s a chance they might choose to stay out there a while longer which might mean missing Christmas.” 

Though the palace didn’t confirm the whereabouts of the couple on their upcoming break, Ragland is based in Los Angeles. 

Meghan first spent Christmas with the royal family in 2017 ― a break from tradition, as she and Harry had only recently announced their engagement the month before. Kate Middleton did not spend Christmas with Prince William after the two were engaged in 2010. 

Meghan and Harry spent time with the queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, William and Kate, attending church on Christmas day before partaking in the family’s traditional turkey lunch at Sandringham House.  

Samir Hussein via Getty Images
Prince Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend Christmas Day church service in 2018.

For the following Christmas, William, Kate, Meghan and Harry (also known as the Fab Four) walked together to church service on Christmas Day amid rumors of a rift. 

Harry only recently addressed rumors of a rift with his brother following more than a year of reports that there was tension between the two. 

“We are brothers. We will always be brothers,” the duke said during the ITV documentary, “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” which aired in October. “We are certainly on different paths at the moment, but I will always be there for him, as I know he will always be there for me.”

He added, “We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we are so busy, but I love him dearly. The majority of the stuff is created out of nothing, but as brothers, you know, you have good days, you have bad days.” 

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