Queen and Royal Family attend church service at Sandringham

The Royal family outside church at Sandringham

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The Queen and other members of the Royal Family have greeted well-wishers outside the Sandringham church which they attended for a Christmas service.

A big crowd had gathered to see the family, who were not accompanied by five-month-old Prince George.

They listened to the service via loudspeakers and afterwards the Queen was presented with gifts by children.

The Royal Family then returned to the Sandringham estate for a traditional Christmas dinner.

By Jenny Hill, BBC News

Among the thousands of people waiting in the winter sunshine there was one question; will Prince George be here?

They were - perhaps unsurprisingly - disappointed. But there was applause for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who - in a break with royal tradition - walked hand in hand to church.

The duchess, in a green tartan frock coat, drew admiration from the crowd. "She's so pretty", one young girl said afterwards.

Many asked after Prince George. The duchess of Cambridge said he was enjoying Christmas and had opened his presents - though he was apparently more interested in the wrapping paper than the contents.

Among the crowds was a young boy who comes to Sandringham every year. His persistence was rewarded - several members of the family spoke to him, including the Queen. "She said good gracious are you here again!" he told me.

Despite the sunshine it was bitterly cold here and the royal party was well wrapped up. The Queen - as usual - arrived by car. She wore an orange coat and a dark fur hat.

As always she is very popular with the children who come here on Christmas morning. When I asked one young boy why she was so special to him he replied "she's just so fancy".

The family followed the German tradition of exchanging presents on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day with the Queen preferring practical gifts to be given.

The Queen was wearing a burnt orange cashmere Stewart Parvin coat, fur hat and a diamond brooch. She arrived for the service by car, accompanied by her granddaughter Zara Tindall, who is eight months pregnant.

Some members of the public enquired about Prince George. Kate, who collected flowers from some children, indicated that her son was doing well and had already opened a few Christmas presents.

And William told the crowd: "We've had a good morning with George and I can't wait until next year when he's bigger."

Prince Harry was seen still sporting a beard from his journey in the Arctic with the charity Walking With the Wounded. He said he intended to keep the beard as it was a "Royal tradition".

After the service, conducted by the rector of Sandringham Jonathan Riviere, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall chatted to local residents, while the Queen was given gifts from children.

Kate also collected flowers from a second line of children.

The Queen receives a bunch of flowers from a child after the service The Queen receives a bunch of flowers from a child after the service
Prince Philip (centre), Prince Charles (second left) and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (third right) arrive at the service Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were at the service
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk through crowds of well-wishers on their way to the church The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk through crowds of well-wishers on their way to the church
Prince Philip and Prince Andrew Prince Philip and Prince Andrew accompanied each other
Prince Harry Prince Harry was one of the members of the Royal Family in attendance
Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice joined the royal party

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