Princess Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, has offered some advise to Meghan Markle ahead of her visit to the queen's royal estate at Sandringham over the festive period.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr. Burrell, who was for a long time Princess Diana's closest aide and confidant, said that the experience of a traditional royal Christmas was "like being transported into another reality"
He explained that Christmas was a time when senior royals tended to jostle for the attention of the queen and use the opportunity of four days in her company to curry favor and seek her help with any problems or issues they may face.
His advice to Meghan was to take the opportunity to speak with the queen about the various negative stories that have been circulating about her of late, including a supposed rift with Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and the resignation of her closest aide, which has seen her being dubbed "Duchess difficult" by some media outlets.
But he added that getting time with the queen could prove difficult. "I personally think [Meghan's] finding it tough in there, no one could prepare her for it, not even on a film set, but this is the real world. Imagine Downton, but ramp it up. Sandringham is Downton Abbey on speed."
"It's the most intense period of the year," he added. "All these people are members of the royal family, they are all larger than life, have character to go with it. Everyone is jostling for position and attention, and they're bouncing off the walls after four days. It's like a pinball machine. They all want to please the Queen and want airtime with her, it's the one time that they can sit down with the head of the family and make an impression."
But while Meghan may be part of the throng jostling for attention, Mr. Burrell still had some insider tips on how to get an opportunity to speak directly with the queen.
"The best time to do it is when she's seated at her card table, before and after dinner, she will sit and play Bridge or Canasta and she'll always ask people to join her, that's your chance to get quality time and tell the monarch what you're thinking and feeling... That's the time Meghan should grasp, don't be talking dresses and jewels with other royals, head for the Queen."
"She's already the same age as when Diana died, so is a mature woman, who comes from a mixed race background, and is American - these are positives that the royals should embrace to go forward in my eyes... Nothing will happen if you're close to the Queen's grandson. But if you stray away from him and start to do things by yourself, that's when there could be problems."