In fact, for the holiday the prince, 28, is on duty at his base, RAF Valley, in North Wales, his office confirmed to PEOPLE, meaning that he will not be with Queen Elizabeth and the extended family at their royal retreat of Sandringham House, Norfolk, on the festive day.
His fiancée is not expected at the annual gathering of the Windsors either. But whether she will be with her parents for one last Christmas as a single woman or spend it with William, who will be flying his Sea King rescue helicopter, remains to be seen.
As for the future, William is expected to ensure that the Middletons are very much part of his life, and not ignored by the royal system. And he has reportedly indicated that while he has the excuse of working this year, it is not certain he will be at the Sandringham gathering every Christmas.
The prince made a big point of the fact that he is close to the family, whom he referred to as "Mike and Carole" in his official engagement interview on Nov. 16. And Mr. Middleton had earlier paid tribute to the couple, saying "They're great fun to be with, and we've had a lot of laughs together."
A palace source would not say whether it was a signal that the future king might spend some Christmases with his in-laws. "That is the future," says the source. "The fact is he won't be there this Christmas."
Another palace source adds, "It's quite obvious that Catherine comes from a close family and her parents are very supportive of both of them and I'm sure that will continue."