Prince Harry and Meghan Markle won't be spending Christmas with the royal family

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have decided not to celebrate Christmas with the Queen and the rest of the royal family this year.

Instead of spending time at Her Majesty's Sandringham home where Harry has spent every Christmas - bar the year he was in Afghanistan - the couple was rumoured to either be staying home at Frogmore or heading overseas with Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland and baby Archie, The Sun reported.

However, it has now been confirmed they will not be joining the other royals this year, as they will instead be spending time with Meghan’s mother.

A statement from Buckingham Palace - which was posted to Twitter by royal reporter Omid Scobie - read: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time towards the end of this month. Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, [the couple] will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess’ mother Doria.

"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."

The spokesperson then added that no further details on Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, and their holiday plans will be shared for security reasons.

Given the Sussexes will also be missing from the royal dinner table at Thanksgiving and are also skipping out on the royals' annual holiday in Balmoral, royal commentators say their moves will do little to heal alleged rifts within the royal family.

Photo / Getty

According to The Sun, a source says the couple "need some time to recharge and decide their plans for next year".

Royal biographer Ingrid Seward says Christmas at Sandringham can be stressful and something they may not want to bring Archie, 6 months, into at a young age.

However she says it is "sad they don't want to be part of the family gathering, particularly now the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are in their dotage."

Seward also thinks the Queen will likely be upset about their absence, however, she is "far too gracious" to let it show.

This Christmas will mark the first for Harry and Meghan’s son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, whom they welcomed into the world in May.

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission. Additional reporting by Bang! Showbiz and The Hits.