With the U.K. entering a second lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and cases rising at an alarming rate in the U.S., it seems prudent for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle not to travel across the pond to see the Royal Family over the holidays.
According to a spokesperson for the couple, via the video above by Bang Showbiz, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are “unlikely” to return to their former home for Christmas this year. Vanity Fair reports Harry has told friends the couple is “not ready” to go back to the U.K. seven months after stepping down as senior members of the Royal Family.
Tense feelings between Harry and his brother, Prince William, may also be a factor. Harry acknowledged he and his brother were “on different paths” in a 2019 interview, and a new book on the brothers claims Harry and William have had a fraught relationship for the past few years.
“I would say William has been more kindly treated than Harry has been, but that has always been the fate of the spare,” royal historian Robert Lacey and author of Battle of Brothers said in a recent interview. “Harry follows, sadly, in the tradition of Princess Margaret or Prince Andrew as number twos in the system, who are treated harshly by the logic of the royal system, which actually favours the main bloodline.”
In pictures: the royals celebrate Christmas. Story continues below.
This would be the second year in a row the couple didn’t spend the holidays with Harry’s side of the family — last year, the couple and their son, Archie, celebrated Christmas and New Year’s at their temporary home in British Columbia. Harry returned to London briefly in January to hash out the details of his and Markle’s exit from the Royal Family, and the couple also made a quick stop to Canada House in London to thank Canada’s high commissioner to the U.K. for the hospitality they received during their stay in B.C.
However, the Sussexes spent the previous two Christmases with the Royal Family in Sandringham, U.K. The family-of-three are currently living in their newly purchased home in California.
Christmas will also look different for the senior members of the Royal Family due to the pandemic. A typical royal Christmas involves getting together for a Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, as well as doing in-person charity work. But if the U.K. is still under lockdown or under strict COVID measures, their plans will undoubtedly pivot to keep everyone safe.
Fortunately, the royals have gotten good at Zoom calls, wearing masks (well, except the Queen) and staying at least two metres away from people when on official engagements. So yes, Christmas will look different, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be celebrated safely.
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