Queen offers support to Harry and Meghan as royals choose not to spend Christmas at Sandringham

The Queen has offered her support to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex following their decision to spend Christmas away from Sandringham.

Queen Elizabeth II sits and laughs with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex during a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Harry and Meghan will be celebrating the festive period with the duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, instead of joining the royal family’s traditional celebration in Norfolk.

The 93-year-old monarch is said to be doing her best to keep the couple in the royal fold after criticism of them in the media, it has been reported.

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Courtiers reportedly said she is helping them to cope with the pressures of royal life, and drops in at Frogmore Cottage for regular visits when at Windsor. Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

Photo taken from the Instagram feed of Sussex Royal showing Britain's Prince Charles with Prince Harry and his son Archie. Picture: Instagram @sussexroyal via AP

Harry and Meghan’s choice to mark Archie’s first Christmas apart from the royal family follows claims of a rift – first between Meghan and the Duchess of Cambridge and then between Harry and his brother, the Duke of Cambridge.

In a television documentary last month, Harry, when asked about the situation, said he loves William dearly but they are “on different paths at the moment” and have “good days” and “bad days” in their relationship.

The Sussexes released a new family photograph of Archie with his “Grandpa”, the Prince of Wales, and Harry to mark Charles’s 71st birthday yesterday.

It is not yet known if Harry and Meghan have invited Ms Ragland to the UK or whether they will travel to the US for Christmas.But there is speculation that they may be taking their son to experience his first Thanksgiving in the US this month. The duke and California-born duchess are preparing for a six-week break from royal duties.