Meghan Markle joins the royal family for Queen Elizabeth's Christmas lunch

In the next step in their path to their May 2018 royal wedding, Prince Harry and fiancée Meghan Markle headed to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to attend Queen Elizabeth's pre-Christmas lunch. In what was the first time the future princess will be meeting the monarch's extended family, Harry was spotted at the wheel driving his bride-to-be, who was wearing a black and white lace-embroidered Self Portrait dress, to his grandmother's London home. The joint appearance comes about a week after Meghan was a guest at the Kensington Palace annual staff Christmas party.

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Prince Harry drove his fiancée to the Queen's lunch at Buckingham Palace Photo: WireImage

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Other members of the royal family seen arriving at the palace included Prince William and Kate Middleton, their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte as well as Harry's cousin Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice. Although Meghan has previously met the Queen, this will be the first time she met The Duke and Duchess of Kent, their son Lord Frederick Windsor and his wife Sophie Winkleman. Lady Sarah Chatto, the Queen's niece, and Princess Alexandra, the Queen's cousin were also likely to meet the American actress. Meghan's appearance at the Buckingham Palace lunch is another indication of how quickly she has been accepted into the monarchy ahead of the wedding.

Prince William and his family also attended the luncheon Photo: WireImage

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Last week, Kensington Palace confirmed that Meghan, 36, will join the Queen for Christmas at Sandringham. The actress will be seen in public with other royals when she attends the traditional Christmas Day church service on the Queen's private estate in Norfolk. "You can expect to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms Markle at Sandringham on Christmas Day," a Kensington Palace spokesman said. Meghan's invitation marks a break in tradition for the royals; the Duchess of Cambridge was not invited to join Prince William for Christmas in 2010, despite announcing their engagement a month before. England rugby player Mike Tindall was also not invited during his engagement to Princess Anne's daughter Zara Phillips, also in 2010.

Lady Amelia Windsor was one of the extended family members in attendance Photo: WireImage

Prince Harry announced in November his plans to marry the former Suits actress, with the official statement coming before the couple's first photoshoot together. The Prince and his bride-to-be embarked on their first engagement on December 1, visiting Nottingham, England together.

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