Queen Elizabeth is already prepping up for the Christmas celebrations; this will be the first year the family celebrates without Prince Philip.
For the first time in 74 years, Queen Elizabeth will host her annual family Christmas without her long-time partner Prince Philip, who passed this April. As it is accustomed, the Royal Family attends a lunch gathering hosted by the Queen in Buckingham Palace, which it's thought will be held at Windsor Castle this year. Also, the family travels to the Queen's state in Sandringham House to celebrate Christmas, but this year the celebration will be different.
Besides the fact that it is the first year the family will celebrate without Prince Philip, the Queen has been dealing with some health issues in the past months. She canceled one of her most important appearances of the year, including the COP26 Glasgow Summit and the Remembrance Sunday service at London’s Cenotaph. Although Buckingham Palace hasn't clarified the Queen's health status, it's said she's suffering from severe back pains.
The Queen's team issued an invitation to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, for the Christmas dinner and the traditional church service, but according to sources near the Firm, they won't be attending either. Preparations for the Royal Christmas celebrations take a lot of time and if they were intending to attend they would've confirmed already.
This has sparked a lot of speculation since people thought at least Prince Harry would accompany her grandmother on her first Christmas without Prince Philip. More importantly, they thought it would be a great opportunity for the Queen to meet her great-granddaughter Lilibet Diana Mountbatten Windsor. According to royal commentators, The Sussexes won't be traveling to the UK to avoid making a commotion. Harry, mainly, has been postponing the encounter although he was basically forced to travel to the UK, once to unveil a statue in honor of his mother Princess Diana, and a second time to attend his grandfather's funeral.
The last time Meghan and Harry attended the Queen's Christmas celebrations at Sandringham was in 2018, a year before announcing their decision to quit their Royal duties. Generally speaking, Christmas has become a controversial time for the couple since then. In 2019, people couldn't help but notice that the Queen left the couple out of the family photos on her desk while giving her traditional Christmas message. In his new book Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan, Christopher Andersen reveals that just before the broadcast the Queen asked for Harry, Meghan, and Archie's photo to be taken out of the desk since they were already in conversations to announce their retirement.
Andersen also adds that a close source to Harry claims he felt very hurt about this issue since he felt the Queen had already cut him out of the family. Also, this might've prompted the almost immediate statement made by Meghan and Harry in January 2020.