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George and Charlotte attend first Christmas Day church service with the Queen

The youngsters walked from Sandringham House with their parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and grandfather, the Prince of Wales.

The Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, arrive to attend the Christmas Day morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk (Joe Giddens/PA)
The Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, arrive to attend the Christmas Day morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk (Joe Giddens/PA)

By Sam Russell, PA

Prince George and Princess Charlotte have joined the Queen at the royal family’s traditional Christmas Day church service on her Sandringham estate for the first time.

George, six, and four-year-old Charlotte walked the short distance from Sandringham House to St Mary Magdalene Church hand in hand with their parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The Prince of Wales walked alongside them.

One-year-old Prince Louis stayed at the house.

The 93-year-old Queen, wearing a red coat and hat, arrived at the church in a maroon Bentley with the Duchess of Cornwall.

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Prince George held hands with his father as he walked to St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk ( Joe Giddens/PA

The Duke of Edinburgh, 98, who was discharged from hospital on Christmas Eve, was at Sandringham but did not attend church.

He had spent four nights at the King Edward VII Hospital in London to receive treatment for a “pre-existing condition”.

Philip, who retired from public duties in 2017, did not attend last year’s church service either despite being in good health at the time.

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The Queen wore a red coat and hat (Joe Giddens/PA)

The Duke of York, who has had a tumultuous end to the year after his disastrous appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, walked side by side with Charles to a private service at 9am but did not attend the 11am service.

Andrew remained at Sandringham House to spend time with the Duke of Edinburgh, a source said, which was the Duke of York’s personal decision.

Andrew’s attempt to explain his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein backfired and he was heavily criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier.

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The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York arriving at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham for a private service (Joe Giddens/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were also absent this year, instead opting to spend seven-month-old Archie’s first Christmas with the duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, in Canada.

Others attending the main morning service included Princess Beatrice and her fiance, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, the Princess Royal and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The Queen walked unaided down the church steps after the service and left in her chauffeured car with Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

The Duchess of Cambridge, holding her daughter’s hand, curtseyed to the Queen from the steps as the car departed.

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The Queen, the Princess Royal and the Duchess of Cornwall arrive at church (Joe Giddens/PA)

As they made the return journey after the service was over, the Cambridges spoke to well-wishers who were waiting to catch a glimpse of the royal family.

Gemma Clark, 39, who had travelled from Long Sutton in Lincolnshire with her family, gave Charlotte an inflatable flamingo and said she seemed pleased with the gift.

“She said ‘Thank you’,” said Ms Clark, who was in a wheelchair.

The flamingo was called Felicity, Ms Clark said, adding: “But Charlotte may call it whatever she likes now.”

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Gemma Clark from Lincolnshire hugs Princess Charlotte after giving her an inflatable flamingo (Joe Giddens/PA)

“It was a birthday present,” she explained. “My sister bought me it for my birthday and I truthfully didn’t like it but we have adventures with her.”

She said George and Charlotte were “brilliant” and that they both hugged her.

“It made my day,” she added. “I’ve never seen the royal family, ever.

“This is my first time at Sandringham and I would love to do it again.”

Back at the house, the family traditionally indulge in turkey, reared at Sandringham, before settling down to watch TV, including the Queen’s Christmas Speech.

PA

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