Meghan Markle will be forging new traditions with the Royal Family this year.
Since the Suits star is spending Christmas with Prince Harry and his family, she will not be allowed to open her Christmas presents on Christmas Day. While it's a change-up from her holiday tradition, there is some good news. The reason she'll go without presents before Christmas dinner is because she will have already opened them on Christmas Eve thanks to a Royal Family rule.
According to the Royal Family's website, the family lays out their presents on Christmas Eve and exchanges them at teatime. Queen Elizabeth II also gives presents to every member of the royal household staff at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
Darren McGrady, a former royal chief, told the Daily Star this tradition comes from Germany, where families usually open their presents on Christmas Eve instead of the morning of Christmas Day. Since the Royal Family is of German descent, they try to keep some German traditions alive.
The gifts the Royals exchange for Christmas are usually never big, expensive items, reports PEOPLE. Kate Middleton reportedly once gave Harry a plastic Grow Your Own Girlfriend kit one Christmas before he married Markle.
The Christmas Eve gift exchange takes one event off the table for the Royals' busy Christmas Day schedule. In the morning, they walk from their Norfolk estate to St. Mary Magdalene church. After mass, they go back to the estate to eat two 25-pound turkeys. The next event is the Queen's annual TV address, which airs at 3 p.m. U.K. time.
This Christmas will be the Duchess of Sussex's first with the Royal Family. She married Prince Harry in May and is expecting their first baby.
Earlier this month, the Daily Mail reported that the Queen invited Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, to join the Royal Family at their Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England. Non-royals usually are not invited to spend the night at the estate. Not even Middleton's family was invited, although they did join the family for Christmas Day mass.
Ragland was the only member of Markle's family to attend her wedding, and has regularly visited Markle in the U.K. since the wedding. Her estranged father, Thomas Markle, was originally set to walk Markle down the aisle, but he suffered a heart attack and was unable to travel to the U.K.
"Doria is very close to her daughter, and she has made several secret trips to England. She has been to Meghan and Harry’s home in the Cotswolds several times and she has stayed with them at Nottingham Cottage," a source told Vanity Fair in September. "Meghan is very close to her mum. They speak on the phone pretty much every day and they are talking about Doria getting a place in the U.K. so that she can spend part of the year over here."
Markle recently joined the Royal Family to celebrate her father-in-law Prince Charles' 70th birthday and to help mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Photo credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images