Prince Harry’s bride-to-be Meghan Markle will spend Christmas day with Queen Elizabeth and the royal family, Kensington Palace has confirmed.
The American actress was given special privilege to join Harry at Sandringham, the monarchy’s winter estate in Norfolk 175km north of London, and be part of the family’s holiday traditions.
“You can expect to see The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms Markle at Sandringham on Christmas Day,” a Kensington Palace spokesperson said on Thursday (AEST).
The move is the latest example of the newly-engaged couple bucking royal protocol, which traditionally only allows someone already married into the family to be invited.
The new couple will be joined Prince William, his pregnant wife Kate Middleton and their two children Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, after choosing to spend Christmas with Kate’s family in 2016.
Other likely guests include Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Harry’s cousins Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
The invitation is seen by many royal watchers as a break in royal protocol.
The former Suits actress will be the first ever fiancé to spend Christmas at Sandringham.
Kate was not invited to Sandringham after her engagement to Prince William in 2010.
Prince Harry first broke tradition by issuing a statement last year that the two were dating, after weeks of speculation.
It’s suggested Markle’s situation may garner an exception from Queen Elizabeth, since the American actress and Harry have been living together at Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace and her family are in the US.
Markle and Prince Harry publicly revealed their engagement on November 27 and plan to get married in Windsor in May next year.
The Queen, 91, has hosted the tradition every year since 1988, despite missing last year’s ritual because of a cold.
The royals usually exchange gifts and play games on Christmas Eve, before they go to a service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the estate on Christmas morning.
The Queen often drives the short distance while others walk and are greeted by a crowd offering well wishes.