UK

Royal Family attend Sandringham Christmas church service

The Queen leaving the service at Sandringham Image copyright Reuters

Members of the Royal Family have attended the Christmas Day service at church on the Sandringham estate.

Led by the Queen, who arrived in a Bentley, the royals made their way from Sandringham House to St Mary Magdalene Church for the traditional service.

The other members of the family made the short journey on foot.

Hundreds of well-wishers had gathered in the rain to catch a glimpse of the monarch and other senior members of the Royal Family.

The Queen, who arrived in Norfolk by train last week, wore a red coat and hat with fur trim, and held a matching umbrella.

She returned to Sandringham House by car after the service, but Prince Harry was among those who stopped to speak to members of the public.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sheltered under an umbrella after the service
Image caption Prince Harry stopped to speak to members of the public

At the scene

Image copyright AP

BBC reporter Emilia Papadopoulos

The cold weather and rain didn't stop the crowds from turning up at Sandringham.

Almost 1,000 well-wishers from as far away as Canada, the United States and China queued for hours to catch a glimpse of the Royal Family.

There were loud cheers as the Queen arrived at church in her Bentley and bright red coat.

The rest of the family walked up the path from the house, led by the Duke Of Edinburgh and Princess Anne.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge followed without Prince George and Princess Charlotte - much to the disappointment of the crowds.

After the service the Queen was driven away while the younger royals, including Prince Harry, greeted the public and collected flowers.

Many of the young children in the crowd told us that the prince had wished them a Merry Christmas - and made their day.

The royals then headed back down the path for Christmas lunch just before the heavy rain began. This afternoon they will go for a walk on the estate and watch the Queen's Speech together.


Image copyright AP
Image caption Most members of the family had walked the short distance to the church
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Duke of Edinburgh was accompanied by Princess Anne
Image copyright PA
Image caption Yvonne (left) and daughter Sharon Webb were among those waiting to see the Royal Family in Sandringham

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were also among those to attend the service.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled to the estate from their home at nearby Anmer Hall.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte did not accompany their parents to church.

The service was played over speakers for members of the public who gathered outside the church for the occasion. It began with the national anthem, followed by the hymn Angels From the Realm of Glory.

The Royal Family are expected to watch the Queen's Christmas Day address later. They follow the German tradition of exchanging presents on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day - with the Queen understood to favour practical gifts.