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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Sam Russell

Royal family attend Christmas Day service at Sandringham church

PA Wire

The King has attended the royal family’s traditional Christmas Day church service for the first time since the death of his mother, the Queen.

Charles, 74, and the 75-year-old Queen Consort walked the short distance from Sandringham House to St Mary Magdalene Church.

They were joined by the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children – Prince George, nine, Princess Charlotte, seven, and four-year-old Prince Louis, who walked hand in hand with Kate.

Also in the walking group, who passed a crowd of well-wishers on the way to the church, was the disgraced Duke of York.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex were also in the group.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who live in California, were absent.

Members of the royal family were greeted outside the church by the Reverend Canon Dr Paul Rhys Williams before they climbed the steps to the church and the National Anthem was sung before the first hymn, O Come, All Ye Faithful.

Members of the public who gathered outside the church listened to the service played over speakers.

They were given service sheets so they could sing along.

After the service, which lasted around 45 minutes, members of the royal family took the time to speak to some of the people who came to see them.

Among them was Gemma Clark, 42, who travelled with her 72-year-old father Paul Clark from Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, and gave toys to George, Charlotte and Louis.

Miss Clark, who was in a wheelchair, said it was “absolutely brilliant” to meet William and Kate and their three children.

“I love them to bits, especially the children, the children are amazing,” she said.

“Prince Louis – I love Louis.

“He’s always cheeky, that Louis is, but I love him.”

She said she gave each of the three children a novelty toy called a gonk, which is like a festive gnome with a pointed hat. She also gave flowers to Kate.

“They said ‘thank you very much’ and ‘happy Christmas’,” Ms Clark said.

“I also met the King as well, just for a brief minute.

“The King is absolutely gorgeous, I like King Charles III, I think he’s going to be an amazing King, I really do.”

Ms Clark attended Sandringham on Christmas Day in 2019, when she gave Charlotte a plastic flamingo toy.

A queue of people wanting to see the royals had begun to form the day before, on Christmas Eve, with 67-year-old John Loughrey arriving at 7pm and camping out.

The retired assistant chef, of Streatham, south London, who wore a Union Jack hat, gloves and hoody, said he wanted to show his “appreciation” to the King and Queen Consort.

Earlier, William and Kate tweeted a picture painted by George of a reindeer, with the message “Happy Christmas!”

This year’s gathering at Sandringham is the first time the royal family have spent Christmas at the private royal residence in Norfolk since 2019.

The late Queen had spent the festive period at Windsor Castle for two years in a row, in 2020 and 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, before her death in September this year.

Traditionally, royal Christmases at Sandringham feature a turkey lunch at the house before the family settle down to watch TV, which this year will include Charles’s first Christmas broadcast as monarch.

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