Meghan Markle and Prince Harry weren’t among the friends who gathered to celebrate Kate Middleton‘s 37th birthday last weekend. Every year in January, Kate and Prince William celebrate her January 9 birthday with a gathering at their Norfolk home.
A group of friends stay at Anmer Hall, take part in a shoot and also attend church on Sunday with the Queen – who often hosts them for dinner at least once over the weekend. The guest list included William’s old pals Thomas van Straubenzee (a godfather to Princess Charlotte) and James Meade (another one of Charlotte’s godparents), along with his wife Laura.
Tom Barber and his wife Davina – née Duckworth-Chad, William’s distant cousin on his mother Diana’s Spencer side – as well as Tom and Harriet Sutton were also in attendance. However, it’s not unusual for Prince Harry – and now Meghan – to miss the small affair out in the country.
Claims have swirled about tension between brothers William and Harry and their wives, Kate and Meghan. But a source tells PEOPLE that the couples enjoyed a memorable first Christmas together in 2017, when Meghan made her debut walk to church with the royal family on Christmas Day. Prince William and Kate Middleton attend church on Jan. 6 “They really loved Christmas and all had a wonderful time,” a source said.
“I think the two women got on — they are definitely not best friends, but it was a really special time for them all to spend together.” During this year’s holiday outing, Meghan and Kate chatted happily as they followed closely behind Prince Charles.
Since Meghan officially joined the royal family in May, there has been a shake up in its synergy – one that many believe was inevitable. “Wives do change the dynamic, and they both have very strong wives,” a palace insider told PEOPLE. “If you bring two independent-minded women from the real world into the royal world, they are going to want to have an impact.”