The early sign that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were eager to break with royal tradition

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on December 25, 2017 in King's Lynn
(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle broke with a major tradition early on in their relationship, showing how they were already prepared to follow their own path when it came to life in the Royal Family.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle met (opens in new tab) back in 2016 and from there their relationship went from strength to strength. Just over a year later, they announced their engagement and their first Christmas as a soon-to-be-married couple could be seen to indicate how they were prepared to break with tradition. Harry and Meghan joined the Queen and other members of The Firm (opens in new tab) in Norfolk, where they also attended the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church observed by excited royal fans. 

However, Meghan’s presence here could be seen as a very early sign of how she and Harry were eager to forge their own path. At this time the Duchess of Sussex was Harry’s fiancée, with their wedding still five months away. It’s understood that traditionally, the Queen doesn’t extend invitations to Christmas at Sandringham for anyone other than spouses.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on December 25, 2017

Before Prince William and Kate Middleton got married (opens in new tab) in April 2011, the couple spent the previous festive period apart. William joined the Queen in Norfolk and Kate is believed to have celebrated with the Middleton family. Though Marie Claire (opens in new tab) has previously suggested that Kate was invited to Christmas at Sandringham back in 2006.

This was reportedly the first time the monarch has extended such an invitation to a relative’s girlfriend. Meanwhile, Kate is said to have turned down the offer until such a time when she and William were married. This meant her first Christmas with the Queen was the December after their wedding, where Kate gave a “frugal gift” (opens in new tab) to Her Majesty.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Meghan Markle, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh leave after attending the Royal Family's traditional Christmas Day church service

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

In contrast, Meghan accompanied Harry to a royal Christmas just a month after they got engaged. At the time, Kensington Palace confirmed, "You can expect to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms Markle at Sandringham on Christmas Day.”

Breaking with tradition and celebrating together at Sandringham despite not being married yet is perhaps a subtle indicator of what was to come. After almost two years of marriage, Harry and Meghan announced their intention to “step back” as senior royals (opens in new tab).

Since then, they have continued to make bold moves, including their “tell-all” Oprah Winfrey interview (opens in new tab) back in March.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTSWs552UQM

Whilst the Duchess made a surprise appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show (opens in new tab) recently, where she shared a rare new picture of her and Harry’s son Archie in designer wellies (opens in new tab)Getting so candid about life in the royal spotlight is something not typically done by members of the Royal Family.

Having started off taking a slightly different path, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle continue to break with tradition as they settle into their new lives away from the royal spotlight.