All change for family Christmas at Sandringham - but still no Harry and Meghan

The King and members of the Royal Family attend Christmas Day service in 2022. Credit: PA

Major alterations are being made to the Royal Family’s Christmas celebrations at Sandringham this year in the first significant change of arrangements since the passing of Queen Elizabeth.

King Charles and Queen Camilla will stick to the tradition of attending church on Christmas morning on the Norfolk estate, with the Prince and Princess of Wales and other senior members of the Royal Family.

But the guest list of those attending Christmas lunch back at Sandringham House is being radically altered - and will include many members of Queen Camilla’s family for the first time.

Although that will mean changing the location of the festive meal to accommodate the extra guests - Prince Harry and Meghan will definitely not be there.

Queen Camilla regularly hosts her children and grandchildren at her private family home in Wiltshire - from her life before she became a member of the Royal Family - as wife to the former Prince of Wales.

Queen Camilla's family will play a bigger role at the Royal Family's Christmas this year. Credit: PA

But a royal source with knowledge of this year’s arrangements at Sandringham said: "The Queen has invited her children and grandchildren this year which is different from previous years:" 

Camilla has two children and five grandchildren.

The additional members of the Queen Consort’s family will mean the Christmas table will need a bigger room to accommodate the new guests.

"The addition of The Queen’s family means extra space is needed", said an insider.

Unlike when Queen Elizabeth was alive, the festive lunch will be now served in the larger ballroom of Sandringham House rather than the dining room, as has been the tradition.

Last Christmas, a few extra members of Camilla’s family meant an extra table was needed in the White Drawing Room but this year "they wish to dine all together", the source said.

Despite the extra numbers, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not be there.

Last week, Prince Harry’s aides shared with select news organisations that he was planning to have - and then did have - a private phone call with his father, King Charles, for his 75th birthday.

They also leaked news that the King’s grandchildren, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, who live in California, recorded video messages for the Monarch.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on private family conversations but it suggested the Sussexes were keen to share the news of a thawing in relations between the King and his younger son, despite Harry and Meghan’s Netflix series, their Oprah Winfrey interview and Harry’s book Spare.

But any improvement in that father-son relationship does not mean an invite to Christmas at Sandringham for the Sussexes this year – and, in any event, Harry and brother, Prince William, are still not on speaking terms.

The Queen’s family include her son Tom Parker Bowles and daughter Laura Lopes as well as her sister Annabel Elliot who is one of Camilla’s close personal aides, now called the "Queen’s Companions" rather than the traditional "Ladies-in-Waiting."

Ms Elliot, who is very close to her older sister and was by her side throughout this year’s Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey, is also helping to refurbish many of the rooms on the Sandringham Estate.

Annabel Elliot (right of the Queen) was with her sister throughout the coronation. Credit: PA

That includes the accommodation at Wood Farm, where the King’s father, Prince Philip, spent much of his retirement.

The King wants to spend more time in Norfolk, and like his father did, will stay at Wood Farm cottage rather than have to open up the entire house.

Annabel is an interior designer and antiques dealer and is understood to be helping King Charles with a number of refurbishments.

Despite his busy schedule, the King has always been closely involved in such projects and even likes to be consulted on the colour of paint for walls and doors.

This Christmas, Prince Andrew and Fergie, the Duchess of Your will stay at Wood Farm, which is a short drive from Sandringham House.

Fergie is currently making a guest appearance on ITV’s This Morning as rumours circulate she is being considered as a potential replacement for Holly Willoughby who recently quit the long-running daytime show.

Royal insiders say Sandringham is a very different place under the reign of King Charles, who is characteristically workaholic in his approach to the new job.

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