Meghan Markle and Prince Harry may not have joined the royal family at Christmas services in the English countryside this year, but they were still acknowledged by Queen Elizabeth II.
In the 93-year-old monarch’s annual Christmas message, which had been previously recorded but not aired until Wednesday, she mentioned the birth of her newest great-grandson, 7-month-old Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
“Two hundred years on from the birth of my great, great grandmother, Queen Victoria, Prince Philip and I have been delighted to welcome our eighth great-grandchild into our family,” she said. “Of course, at the heart of the Christmas story lies the birth of a child: a seemingly small and insignificant step overlooked by many in Bethlehem. But in time, through his teaching and by his example, Jesus Christ would show the world how small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding.”
Part of the speech was shared on Tuesday ahead of the broadcast, in which the Queen referenced a difficult year for the royal family and the English people as they dealt with Brexit. “The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference,” she said when speaking about Jesus and the importance of reconciliation.
An official photo of the Queen was also released, but Meghan, Harry and Archie were not included in the series of framed photos placed on a table next to the matriarch. The royals who were pictured included the Queen’s father, George VI; her husband, Philip; her son, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla; and her grandson, Prince William, with his wife, Kate Middleton, and their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are currently spending the holidays with family in Canada.
A spokesperson for the Sussexes told ET last week that “the decision to base themselves in Canada reflects the importance of this Commonwealth country to them both.” No further details were provided, other than Harry is a “frequent visitor to Canada over many years, and it was also home to the duchess for seven years before she became a member of the royal family.”
“They are enjoying sharing the warmth of the Canadian people and the beauty of the landscape with their young son,” the spokesperson added.
Additionally, a source told ET that Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, has been visiting Canada from Los Angeles and is expected to be with Harry, Meghan and Archie for Christmas.
A royal insider told ET that while the Queen had given permission for the couple to skip Christmas with the royals, some members of the family were “disappointed” that the couple was not joining in on the traditional holiday gathering. “Some members of the family think the couple should have considered queen and Prince Philip’s advancing age,” the source said. “After all, at 93 and it being Archie’s first Christmas, neither Her Majesty the Queen nor Prince Philip will be around forever.”
The Queen did, however, take her annual royal walk to Christmas services at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene on her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, located in the English countryside north of London. She wore an all-red ensemble, save for her black gloves and shoes for the occasion. Wednesday also marked the first time Prince George and Princess Charlotte joined their parents for the holiday outing.
While the Sussexes may not have been with the rest of the royal family in England, they did share their family Christmas card via social media on Monday, which featured an adorable Archie in the front of the frame as his parents looked on.
Just sharing the sweetest Christmas Card from our President and Vice-President, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Very Merry Christmas, everyone! pic.twitter.com/McOcHALoGl
— The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (@queenscomtrust) December 23, 2019
Even that wasn’t without controversy, though. The black-and-white photo was taken by Meghan’s longtime friend, Janina Gavankar, who took to Twitter to reiterate that her portrait was not Photoshopped.