Tell me about… Visiting Sandringham on Christmas Day

It’s the annual royal event that the whole world waits for and watches – the Royal Family attending church on Christmas Day. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family attend the festive service at St Mary Magdalene, just a short walk from Sandringham House. Each year, hundreds line up just to get a glimpse of royalty – and I’ve been lucky enough to be one of them!

St Mary Magdalene church, Sandringham, where the Royal Family gather yearly for their Christmas Day service.(Phil McIver/Flickr)

I first attended in 2017. There was so much excitement and anticipation within my family as we didn’t know what to expect. I was particularly excited to see Meghan Markle walking with Prince Harry, after it was announced she would be spending Christmas at Sandringham. This was an exciting moment not only for the Royal Family, but also the public, as Meghan would become the first fiancée to spend Christmas with the Royals.

So Christmas morning, after getting ready and opening our presents we got in the car for the 30-minute journey. Upon arriving to the church we saw hundreds of people already lining up. Once we parked up, we saw some of the media already filming their coverage of the event just outside the gates. After being searched by Police officers, we made our way down to St Mary Magdalene to take our place and patiently wait for the Royals to appear.

I remember being amazed by the media presence and the amount of equipment they all carried.

Thousands at Sandringham queuing to get in to see the Royal Family. (© Kieran Rumsby)

After waiting in the cold, the media cameras started clicking and from that moment, we knew the Royals were on the way. Princess Anne was leading the way, followed by The Earl of Wessex, Peter and Autumn Philips. The Countess of Wessex, The Duke of Edinburgh and Lady Louise were behind, keeping close to those in front.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle all walked down to the church together. There were cheers and clicks from the cameras as the royal couples walked past. The clicks of the cameras drowned out the noises of those cheering. The media were all shouting for the Royals to look in their direction to get the ‘perfect shot’.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Christmas Day at Sandringham. Picture by Andrew Parsons / i-Images

Once all the Royals had made their way down from Sandringham House to the church, The Queen arrived in a Bentley State Limousine alongside The Duchess of Cornwall. The Queen stepped out wearing a vibrant orange coat for the occasion, whilst Camilla took a festive approach to outfit by wearing red.

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Members of the Royal Family attend Christmas Day Church service in 2017

Whilst the service was being carried out, we went back to the car to pick up a hot drink on a cold Christmas morning. We slowly made our way back to see the Royals leaving the service.

Upon leaving the Church, The Countess of Wessex came over, with other senior Royals, asking if we were all having a lovely Christmas. We also took flowers along with us to give to the Royal Family, and Sophie took them.

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Sophie, The Countess of Wessex came over to wish us a Merry Christmas

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We never expected this to become a yearly tradition, getting up early on Christmas Day to see the Royal Family. But the opportunity and experience was too big to turn down. This would become a memory we would carry with us for future years.

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The Queen attends Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on 25th December 2018

The following year in 2018, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge came over commenting it was a bit cold standing around but thanked us all for coming. Another member of the public asked the Duchess what Father Christmas brought Prince George, in which she replied “lots of lego”.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex  leave after attending Christmas Day Church service in 2018

Last year, we were particularly looking forward to seeing if Prince George and Princess Charlotte would appear after much speculation. We were right. The two young Royals made their Christmas debut, as the Cambridge family walked alongside The Prince of Wales.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took Prince George and Princess Charlotte to church on Christmas Day at Sandringham.

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The Duke of Edinburgh was not present, due to only being discharged the day from hospital before as a precaution over an ongoing health issue. The Sussexes were also not present after deciding to spend Christmas in Canada.

I would fully recommend to anyone who loves the Royal Family to pay a visit to Sandringham on Christmas Day to get a glimpse of the Royals.

It’s safe to say this year will be slightly different with no visit Sandringham this year. There will be no Royal celebrations with the Queen and Prince Philip spending Christmas at Windsor Castle, although we can expect to see The Queen’s annual broadcast at 3pm GMT, now with smart home devices also sharing the message across the globe.

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