With Meghan Markle set to take part in the Christmas festivities at Queen Elizabeth’s Sandringham home on December 25, insiders detect a softening of the monarch and the royal ways. At 91, the Queen has mellowed and is more realistic about the modern world, insiders and veteran royal watchers tell PEOPLE in this week’s issue. Which is why Meghan will break protocol to join her fiancé Prince Harry at the church service with the rest of the royal family on Christmas morning.
“It’s her age,” says Ingrid Seward, author of My Husband & I, a new biography of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. “She is easier-going. It’s refreshing that [the royal family] is prepared to bend a bit.”
And a friend of the family adds, “They are much more enlightened now.”
Back when Kate Middleton was engaged to Prince William in 2010, she did not join him for Christmas at Sandringham.
“Ms. Markle,” as the palace calls her, and Harry will stay at Anmer Hall, the 10-bedroom country home of William and Kate and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte. After church, she will head to the “big house” (as it’s known in royal circles) for lunch with the Queen and the rest of the family.
Why Angelina Jolie Homeschools
More than one year after filing for divorce from Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and her six children are moving on with their lives. “Angelina is busy with everything she is doing, including being a super mom to her kids,” a Jolie source tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “But she is doing fine and working with Brad on ways to continue their lives so everyone is happy.”
Jolie and Pitt’s divorce is not yet finalized, but it is moving forward. In the meantime, the pair have been “working out time for him to be with the kids, which he treasures,” says another source. For Pitt “the process has been difficult,” says a source close to the situation. “But he is OK and remains committed to his family.” (While Pitt has dated since their split — “nothing serious,” says a source — there’s been no hint yet of a new romance on Jolie’s part.)
Maddox, 16, Pax, 14, Zahara, 12, Shiloh, 11, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 9, live with Jolie, 42, in LA and visit Pitt, 54. Earlier this year, Jolie bought a $24 million estate once owned by Cecil B. DeMille to be closer to Pitt. During the week, the kids “are focused on studying,” a family source says. “They have tutors for all kinds of subjects, including different languages and instruments. The kids are also very physically active. They like soccer and love skateboarding, and also take self-defense classes.”
At a December screening of her Golden Globe-nominated movie First They Killed My Father, Jolie explained her decision to homeschool her kids.
“It bothered me how little I was taught in school,” Jolie, 42, explained. “I do worry about my children’s education. I homeschool partially because they are from around the world and it’s very … I didn’t want them to have the same education I had when it came to Vietnam or Cambodia.”