Kate and Meghan are all smiles as they put rumours of a rift behind them to join their husbands, the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family at Christmas Day church service in Sandringham
Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Sussex all smiles as they joined the Queen at church in Sandringham
They were greeted by adoring crowds as they made their way to St Mary Magdalene Church in Norfolk
Prince William, 36, and Harry, 34, joined their wives and the rest of royal Family amid rumours of a ‘rift’
The Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Cornwall did not join the rest of the royals today
It is understood the duke is in good health and will spend the day relaxing privately with his family
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The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex were all smiles today as they joined the Queen at church in Sandringham for the Christmas Day service.
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Kate, 36, and Meghan, 37, were greeted by adoring crowds as they made their way to St Mary Magdalene Church, a short walk from Sandringham House on the Royal Family’s Norfolk estate.
Prince William, 36, and Harry, 34, joined their wives as they put on a united front amid rumours of a ‘rift’ and mounting tensions between the two couples.
It was confirmed earlier this month that the ‘Fab Four’ were going to spend Christmas Day together despite claims of a falling out.
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Hundreds of well-wishers turned out to see the royal family, but the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Cornwall were missing.
Philip and Camilla did not join the rest of the royals as they made the short walk. It is understood the duke is in good health and will spend the day relaxing privately with his family.
Camilla missed an appearance at the Olympia Horse Show last week due to a heavy cold and is believed to be still recovering from the bug.
Behind the lead group strode Peter Phillips holding the hands of his daughters Savannah and Isla, and they were followed by Princess Beatrice and Peter’s wife Autumn Phillips.
A few metres behind were Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank, who smiled at the crowds as they walked towards the church.
Towards the back of the group were the Earl and Countess of Wessex with their children, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence and Zara and Mike Tindall.
The Queen arrived in her state limousine with the Duke of York.
It began after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were moving out of Kensington Palace to live in Frogmore House in Windsor.
There were also reports of a falling out between Meghan and Kate during Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress fitting before the royal wedding earlier this year.
It was then hinted that the Cambridge’s would spend the day with the Middleton family in Berkshire, and Harry and Meghan would spend it with the Queen.
However Kensington Palace confirmed they would be celebrating the day together in what is expected to be a show of solidarity between the royals.
Royal fans wait at the church each year to get a glimpse of the family to start their Christmas festivities. Many had brought bouquets of flowers or had got in the Christmas spirit by wearing Santa hats.
Poised with her camera phone in the crowds was Karen Anvil, 40, from Watlington, Norfolk, who snapped the Royals smiling as they left church last Christmas Day.
She said the photo had been like a lottery win after she posted it on social media before a professional photographer at the church put her in touch with his agent.
She said by 5pm the same day, the picture had gone viral and it has since been sold to at least 50 countries.
Sales of the photograph have enabled her take a year off work, clear debts and pay for a house revamp.
This year the Duchess of Sussex is enjoying her first Christmas as a member of the royal family.
But the American former actress is in the rare position of already having spent December 25 with the Windsors.
She became the first non-married partner invited to Christmas lunch at Sandringham with the Queen in 2017.
Now an HRH and a duchess, the ex-Suits star is seven months into her royal life, and due to give birth to a royal baby in the spring.
The traditions followed by the royal family at Christmas are a little different from many households in the UK.
While most people across the country open their presents on Christmas Day, the royal family still keep to the German practice of opening their gifts on Christmas Eve.
Known as Heiligabend Bescherung (which translates as Christmas Eve exchanging presents), the tradition was popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other royals usually congregate in the White Drawing Room at Sandringham House the day before Christmas to put the finishing touches to a 20ft (6m) tree cut from the estate.
Presents are placed on a white linen-covered trestle table, with cards marking exactly where the piles of gifts should be put.
The Queen likes practical presents, but not overly extravagant ones, and the royals also reportedly like to exchange joke or non-costly quirky gifts.
Kate revealed that she was left stumped over what to buy the monarch for Christmas during her first stay at Sandringham.
‘I thought back to what would I give my own grandparents. And I thought ‘I’ll make her something.’ Which could have gone horribly wrong,’ the duchess said.
‘But I decided to make my granny’s recipe of chutney. I was slightly worried about it, but I noticed the next day that it was on the table.’
Diana, Princess of Wales, once fell foul of the royal rules on present-giving, apparently buying cashmere sweaters as her first festive royal presents, and getting joke gifts such as a loo-roll holder in return.
At 5pm, guests enjoy tea, scones, sandwiches and cakes from sideboards in the Saloon.
Afterwards, they dress for dinner, with the men in black tie and the women in evening gowns, with the table set with the finest china.
Sarah, Duchess of York, once described the royal Christmas as ‘exhausting’, having changed outfits seven times in 24 hours.
Sometime after 10pm, on a signal from the Queen, the dorgis are led out and the ladies adjourn, leaving the Duke of Edinburgh to serve port or brandy to the men.
On Christmas Day, the royals awake to find stockings filled with small gifts and fruit at the foot of their beds.
After the morning service at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the royal estate is a traditional event where they greet well-wishers.
Back at the house, lunch is prepared by their staff and served at 1pm, and the royals indulge in a giant turkey, reared at Sandringham.
They then settle down to watch the Queen’s Christmas Speech.
The Queen sometimes quietly leaves the room and lets her family watch the national address by themselves, as she views it alone to see how it comes across.
Boxing Day, when the royals enjoy a breakfast buffet of kedgeree, bacon and eggs, often involves outdoor pursuits such as shooting, riding and walking.
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