Prince Harry's new girlfriend, actress Meghan Markle, is not expected to be invited to the royal family's private Christmas celebration this year, but she shouldn't take it personally.
Contrary to a recent report claiming that the queen denied a request from Harry to have Meghan join the family at their Sandringham House country estate, royal expert Katie Nicholl has a different account.
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"My sources tell me that is not the case," Nicholl tells ET from London. "[Harry] knows the rules of the royal family and he knows that until they get engaged, Meghan will not have a place around that Christmas dinner table."
Nicholl noted that the same was true for Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
"If you think about all those years that Prince William was courting Kate Middleton, she had to wait 10 years until she was invited to Sandringham," Nicholl says. "Harry and Meghan have only been dating for a few months. So, no, the queen has not stolen Christmas, and, no, Meghan Markle won't be at the Christmas table at Sandringham this year."
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And just what does a Christmas with the royal family look like?
"The royal family really wind down for Christmas," Nicholl explains. "The senior members traditionally spend the festive period at Sandringham. Sandringham is the queen's residence in Northfolk, and it has always been the place where the family gathered. So the queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, Camilla, the whole family gather en masse. They enjoy a traditional Christmas turkey on Christmas Eve. They follow the German tradition and open presents on Christmas Eve and then on Christmas Day itself, the family goes to church in the morning and then they go back to Sandringham House for lunch and to watch, of course, the queen's speech in the afternoon. And then really the family are left to enjoy themselves -- to play games, and on Boxing Day, there is that famous shoot that most of the senior members of the family take part in."
Harry and Markle haven't been in the same room together since Harry launched his 14-day tour of the Caribbean, but Markle was snapped departing from Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday. While it's unclear where Markle might meet up with Harry next, Nicholl is confident that they will squeeze in some time together before Christmas.
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"My sources do tell me that they have plans to meet up as soon as Prince Harry has finished his tour, which will be this weekend," Nicholl says. "It's possible they might meet in London. There's a chance they might meet in L.A. That said, Prince Harry does have an engagement in London next week, so if I was putting money on it, I'd say if they're going to be meeting up, it's more likely to be over here than in the States."
Gearing up for the tail end of his Caribbean tour on Thursday, Prince Harry was joined by Rihanna in Barbados to take an HIV test in honor of World AIDS Day. Watch the video below to learn more about Harry's tropical trip.