The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their son Archie. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

London - The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not join the Royal Family for Christmas at Sandringham, Buckingham Palace said on Monday night.

A spokesman revealed they will instead spend the festive season with Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland and their baby son, Archie, at an undisclosed location.

Intriguingly, sources said the Queen had no idea of her grandson’s plans until he rang her on Wednesday at Buckingham Palace to inform her. She is said to be "supportive" and understands that the couple want time out of the spotlight and for Meghan to be able to spend her first Christmas with her mother for two years.

A spokesman for the Sussexes said: ‘Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, their Royal Highnesses will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the duchess’s mother Doria Ragland.

"This decision is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family, and has the support of Her Majesty the Queen.

"For security reasons, we will not be providing further details on their schedule at this time."

Although the Palace stressed that the couple’s decision to miss the Royal Family’s traditional Christmas celebrations on the monarch’s Norfolk estate was in no way seen as a "snub", it comes after they turned down an invitation to join her at Balmoral this summer.

But an aide insisted: "The Duke and Duchess see a lot of the Queen as they now live at Windsor. That’s why they didn’t go to Scotland this summer and why the Queen is supportive of their decision about Christmas."

The couple could spend it quietly at their new Windsor home with Miss Ragland for the first time – seen as the most likely option – or go abroad, either to the US or even Africa, which Harry views as his "second home".

Harry’s brother and sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, will spend Christmas at their Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, with their children Prince George, six, Princess Charlotte, four, and Prince Louis, one, and attend church with the monarch on Christmas Day.

Palace staff and even senior royals had been kept in the dark about Harry and Meghan’s plans until on Wednesday.

One source said: "When questions about what the duke and duchess would be doing were asked at the weekend, the couple said they still hadn’t decided.

"The Duke rang her personally at Buckingham Palace late in the afternoon to tell Her Majesty."

Harry has one last official engagement on Sunday before he and Meghan begin a six-week sabbatical to spend time as a family.

William and Kate have previously spent Christmas with the Middletons in Bucklebury, Berkshire. But some royal aides felt an appearance by the Sussexes might have helped stem speculation about their isolation from the rest of the family.

Daily Mail