In a royal first, the Queen invited the Middletons to Christmas church service as the two families celebrated the holiday together

By Monique Jessen
Updated December 30, 2014 08:05 PM
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Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

If there was a prize for best royal son-in-law, Prince William would win hands-down.

When he married Kate Middleton three years ago, the prince was determined that her family remain a big part of the couple’s lives.

So when it came to Christmas, he made sure that his in-laws were included in the celebration at the Queen’s estate in Sandringham, something that was previously a royals-only event.

In a first, the Middletons – Kate’s parents, Carole and Mike, and her siblings, Pippa and James – were invited to join the royal family at church on Christmas morning.

“This request would have come from William,” Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine tells PEOPLE, adding: “William is making his own rules – he’s not sticking to tradition but the Queen has to move with the times and she’s good like that.”

The Middletons also stayed with William, Kate and toddler Prince George at the family’s new country home, Anmer Hall.

Princess Kate is very close to her mother, who looked after George at her home in Bucklebury while the royal couple spent a few days in New York in early December. And it was the Middleton home that the new parents stayed days after bringing newborn George home from the hospital in July 2013.

For the Middletons, this year was the first Christmas they got to fully spend with Prince George, and it was also the first pregnant Kate has hosted at Anmer Hall.

Kate’s brother, James, played soccer with Prince Harry in the Sandringham estate’s annual charity match on Christmas Eve and it’s believed that Prince William’s in-laws were also invited to the traditional Boxing Day shoot – another clear sign that William is keen to integrate the two families as much as possible.

So what sort of Christmas did Kate throw? “She would have done a very traditional Christmas and the table would have looked beautiful,” adds Seward. “I’m sure they had party games as there were enough of them and they are a fun group.”

Kate and William are expected to make Anmer Hall their main residence when Prince William joins the East Anglian Air Ambulance next spring.

“They will definitely be at Anmer Hall every Christmas now. It’s only two miles from the main house so it suits everyone,” says Seward.