Why Meghan Markle likely won't open presents on Christmas Day

While Meghan Markle has been known to stray from royal tradition from time to time, the Duchess of Sussex likely won't break her new family's holiday traditions.

Each holiday season — for the past two decades — the royal family retreats to the Sandringham House, Queen Elizabeth II's private country home in Norfolk, England. There, they celebrate both Christmas and the New Year together. And there are certain customs the royals have come to love over the years.

For example, many families may exchange gifts on Christmas Day, but the royal family (children included) has their own routine.

"The Royal Family lay out their presents on trestle tables and will exchange their gifts at teatime [on Christmas Eve]," the Royal Household states online.


Former royal chef Darren McGrady said this age-old tradition can actually be attributed to the British family's German heritage.

"The royals are of German descent so they weave in German traditions to their celebrations," McGrady told Express on Tuesday, noting Germans typically open presents on Dec. 24. "After afternoon tea, they open gifts on Christmas Eve, as is the German tradition."

However, Markle and Harry have been known to mix things up — often forging their own path as a royal couple.


Roughly a month after her engagement to Harry in 2017, Markle joined the royal family to celebrate Christmas. In fact, that's when she was officially welcomed into the family by Queen Elizabeth II.

Markle joining the royal family during Christmas (her first public outing with the family) was unusual because new members are usually invited to holiday events only after they are married, according to The Telegraph. Kate Middleton was also only welcomed into the family after she married William. Markle was spotted walking next to Middleton as she held Harry’s arm while arriving at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham for a traditional Christmas service in 2017.

Attending a morning church service at the St. Mary Magdalene is yet another family tradition Markle will most likely participate in again this year. According to the Royal Household, she'll also assist the royal family in putting the "final touches" on their Christmas tree.

And Markle should definitely expect to receive a gift from Queen Elizabeth II.

"All members of The Royal Household will receive Christmas presents from The Queen, and Her Majesty will personally hand out presents to some members of The Royal Household at Buckingham Palace and at Windsor Castle," the Royal Household explains. "Continuing the tradition from her father, King George VI and her grandfather, George V – The Queen also gives Christmas puddings to her staff."

However, the Queen may have a hard time topping the gift she reportedly received from Markle last year: a singing hamster.

“Meghan bought a little hamster that sings with a little rope for Her Majesty," a source told the Daily Star in January. "It was so funny, especially when the corgis tried to take hold of the toy."