Royal life is full of pomp and circumstance, so it's not exactly surprising to hear that the British royal family's Christmas celebration is quite the formal affair. Queen Elizabeth II and her relatives have a longstanding tradition spending the holiday at Sandringham, where they partake in a pheasant shoot, a Christmas Eve black-tie dinner, and a Christmas morning church service, among other festivities. Last year, Prince Harry brought his then-fiancée for the very first time, but this year, Meghan Markle's Christmas plans as a royal will be even more special: her mom, Doria Ragland, will reportedly be joining her at Sandringham as a guest of the Queen, according to Hello!.
From the sounds of it, Ragland was welcomed into the royal fold quite effortlessly: Prince Harry gushed about his future mother-in-law in his first television interview with Meghan after they announced their engagement, and just ahead of her daughter's May wedding, Ragland sat down with the Queen for tea at Windsor Castle, according to Us Weekly. Since then, she has also made an appearance at one of Meghan's first major hosting events as a duchess, supporting her daughter at the September launch of her charity cookbook, Together: Our Community Cookbook, according to People.
In other words, Ragland certainly seems to have earned the royal seal of approval, but even so, it's still a big deal that she's said to be joining the royals for Christmas. That's because the Queen has long kept rather strict rules about who can and cannot come: the guest list is generally thought to be family only, and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, wasn't invited to Sandringham until after she and Prince William tied the knot in 2011, according to the Daily Mail, despite the fact that they had been a couple for eight years.
What's more is that, though Duchess Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, have joined the royals at church on Christmas morning, they haven't actually ever been invited to stay at the Queen's estate, according to the Daily Mail (in previous years, they've lodged at Anmer Hall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's nearby country home).
That doesn't necessarily mean that the Queen has a specific preference for Meghan though: unlike Kate, who has a tight-knit family living reasonably close by in Berkshire, Meghan's mother lives in the United States, according to Town & Country, meaning that it makes more sense for her to stay at Sandringham with her daughter and Prince Harry.
Ragland, then, will almost certainly be joining Meghan, Prince Harry, and their "little bump," as the dad-to-be dubbed their upcoming addition, at church on Christmas morning. But what else can the world's most famous mother-in-law expect from her first royal Christmas? Aside from the black-tie dinner and grouse shoot, the royals exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, according to The Express, though they're often "cheap joke gifts," meant to elicit a laugh (Ragland may want to follow in Kate's footsteps though — she gifted the Queen her grandmother's homemade chutney on her first royal Christmas, according to Town & Country).
After church the next morning, according to The Express, the family will reconvene for a traditional Christmas turkey lunch, followed by a group viewing of the Queen's yearly televised Christmas address, and, reportedly even a game or two of charades.
There's no question that it has been a massive year for Meghan — around this time last year, she and Prince Harry announced their engagement, and now, they're married with a baby on the way. And though that might mean that she doesn't get to spend as much time with her mom as she'd like, it sounds like the Queen has made sure the two will get to create some seriously special memories together this Christmas.