The Sussexes haven't returned to the UK since March 2020, which was when they had their last royal engagement.
Spending time with family might be one of the best parts of the holiday season but this year has been a bit of a doozy for everyone. People are still trying to make plans with family and finding socially distant ways to hang out. However, the restrictions on travel might have worked out for those trying to avoid family drama. Prince Harry might be one of them.
Harry and Meghan Markle are expected to return to the UK, but only after the Christmas holidays, according to Express UK. The couple hasn't gone back there since their last royal engagement in March. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had previously announced that they plan to split their time in the UK and North America, but have been unable to do so because of the pandemic.
"This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter," they had said.
Prince Harry had previously said that he was ready to return home. "I definitely plan on coming back," he said, according to Bustle. "I would have been back already had it not been for COVID." However, his reason for returning home was not about seeing his family but the Rugby League World Cup in October 2021. A source close to the couple said that they would have also gone to the UK for Princess Beatrice's wedding and Trooping the Color ceremony, if not for the pandemic. The couple might have to return earlier than planned because of another pressing matter.
The important reason that is going to bring them back earlier is Markle's court case against the publisher of The Mail on Sunday. So far, the case has been in the pre-trial phase but it is set to begin on January 11, 2021, and is expected to last 10 days. To attend court on January 11, they will have to return before December 28 in order to finish the two-week isolation.
"Staff at Windsor have been told to prepare for the possibility Harry could come back. They are told that it could be within weeks but Meghan's name was not mentioned. There are all sorts of issues to speak about — not only his political statements but also his visa situation in the US. Even though he would have to isolate for two weeks, the estate is large enough for talks in a socially distanced way," a source said, as per Express UK.
However, nobody is sure exactly when the prince is set to return. "Global travel has been made very complicated by the coronavirus pandemic and at the moment the Duke has no plans to travel back to the UK, certainly not before Christmas. The problem is if he comes over then he has to quarantine and that makes things quite difficult," a source was quoted as saying.
If they don't return to the UK before the holidays, it will be the second in a row where they missed Christmas at Sandringham, the Queen's family home. The Sussexes haven't lived in the UK since November 2019, when they chose to head to Canada before settling down in California.
However, other publications have revealed a different version of the couple's plans about returning to the UK. "There’s a lot of tradition surrounding the holidays with his family, and they both have really loved that in the past," a source was quoted as saying by Us Weekly. "With the uncertainty of COVID, they have been taking it one day at a time and are hopeful that they can all go back together and spend it as a family," they said.
The quarantine period will definitely factor into the couple's travel plan, which isn't too clear at the moment. "Time will tell if that will need to happen and if it could potentially impact what they do and when, but they are all eager to get back to spend time with Harry’s family and for Archie to see his great-grandmother [Queen Elizabeth II] and great-grandfather [Prince Philip] in particular," the source said.
Brothers Prince William and Harry are reportedly not on the best of terms since the latter decided to step down as a royal.