The former Suits star will be spending Christmas with her fiance, Prince Harry, and the royal family, at Queen Elizabeth II's country estate, Sandringham, ET previously reported -- and now we have a breakdown of all the holiday traditions Markle will experience for the first time.
"Firstly, it's important to stress that this is a completely new departure from Christmas with reference to the royal family. Normally, the protocol is pretty strict," royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams tells ET. "In the past, when Kate Middleton was engaged to William and also when Mike Tindall was engaged to Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara Phillips, they didn’t, as [an] unmarried [couple], spend Christmas with the queen."
"Obviously Meghan’s parents are in the United States, but the main reason [Markle is invited] is clearly that it’s what Harry wished," he continues. "But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it wasn’t the queen’s idea, simply because, it’s so important to make a new member and a future senior member of the royal family feel welcome, feel at home, and Christmas is the perfect time to do it."
According to Fitzwilliams, what Markle has ahead of her is a "daunting" few days packed with royal activities.
Day 1: Christmas Eve
Markle and Harry will reportedly be staying near Sandringham at Anmer Hall with Prince William, Kate Middleton and their kids, and will travel via public train to the destination. The royal family will exchange and unwrap gifts on Christmas Eve, but don't think they go overboard on expensive presents.
"The important thing to remember is that these presents tend to be token. They're a bit of fun. They don't spend money on them," Fitzwilliams explains. "The idea is [that] the family who has everything exchanges amusing gifts."
"For example, Princess Anne gave Prince Charles a white leather lavatory seat, which he has subsequently taken, he’s said, on all his travels. And Harry is supposed to have given the queen an amusing cap with ‘Life’s a B**ch’ written on it. The important rule is to give nonsense really, or amusing, that which will entertain," he says, noting that Princess Diana was not given the rules ahead of her Christmas at Sandringham, and brought expensive presents which "didn't go down particularly well." "It's terribly important that you are as relaxed as possible."
While the gift exchange seems to be quite casual, Markle should be prepared to pack a ball gown, as the queen will host a black tie dinner. In the meantime, however, there will be tea and final decorations for the Christmas tree, which younger members of the family like Prince George and Princess Charlotte will help out with.
Day 2: Christmas Day
On Christmas Day, the family will head to the nearby St. Mary Magdalene Church for a service at 11 a.m. "This is where Charlotte was christened, and it's also, quite a long time ago, where Diana was christened," Fitzwilliams notes.
After the service, the family will enjoy turkey for lunch before the queen's Christmas speech is broadcast at 3 p.m. According to Fitzwilliams, Queen Elizabeth has pre-recorded her speech, and will watch it alone, and not with the other members of the royal family.
After the speech, the family will have tea and go for a nice walk and sit down for a buffet dinner. To cap off the night, the family will play games like charades.
Day 3: Boxing Day
After a jampacked few days, not much is on the agenda for Markle's third day at Sandringham. "There's a kedgeree breakfast, and then there's a shoot that's organized," Fitzwilliams says.
Markle and Harry have just about five months before they tie the knot. Kensington Palace revealed on Friday that the couple will marry on Saturday, May 19, 2018. See more on Markle in the video below.