How Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s First Christmas Nearly Exposed Their Then-Private Relationship

After roughly six months of dating in 2016, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had their first Christmas together. It was only a month after The Daily Mail broke the news that Harry was seeing Meghan. No photos of them together had ever been published and they were still largely able to fly under the radar. That almost changed, according to royal reporter and Finding Freedom co-author Omid Scobie.

Scobie revealed during a Q&A on Friday with fellow co-author (and royal contributor) Carolyn Durand and CNN’s Max Foster that the future Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first holiday season in London almost became much more public than either of them wanted.

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family

Dey Street Books

Scobie was asked about stories that didn’t make it into Finding Freedom. He responded, “One of the stories that didn’t make the final cut was about their first Christmas in London. And obviously at the time, there was so much talk about their relationship, and the couple had actually—so they had gone out in London to buy their first Christmas tree together, and we later found out about that through one of the papers. But what we didn’t know is that someone had actually taken photos of the couple, and this was going to, much to their sort of surprise, this was going to be probably the first pictures that we saw of them, but because it was so dark when they went shopping, those photos never saw the light of day, and they were able to enjoy a few more months of privacy beforehand.”

The first clear photos of Harry and Meghan together came out in February 2017.

But the story of them shopping for a Christmas tree was given to Hello! in 2016. The two were seen looking for a tree at Pines and Needles in Battersea, London on Dec. 12, 2016. They chose a medium-sized Nordmann Fir for Harry’s Nottingham Cottage residence at Kensington Palace.

A spokesperson for the shop spoke to Hello! about their visit, saying, “They came in at about 8:30 p.m. last night. Prince Harry was with Meghan and hilariously the staff only recognized Meghan at first—they were so excited to have the girl from Suits there. It wasn’t particularly cold, but they were gloved and hatted out.”

Sam Lyle, the owner of Pines and Needles, said that “they were completely charming together and blissfully unaware that our jaws had hit the floor. They chose a gorgeous Nordmann Fir and walked away after exchanging Christmas pleasantries.”

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