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In pictures: Meghan masters the curtsy as she spends Christmas with the royal family

Ms Markle and the Duchess of Cambridge curtsied to the Queen in almost perfect synchronicity.

Meghan Markle has joined the royal family for her first Christmas church service at Sandringham.

The appearance of the US actress, whose engagement to Prince Harry was announced in November, drew large crowds to St Mary Magdalene Church after Kensington Palace confirmed she would be at the Queen’s Norfolk estate.

They were not disappointed as Ms Markle demonstrated she had mastered the art of the curtsy before joining her fiance to speak to delighted well-wishers after the service.

Ms Markle walked arm-in-arm with Harry as they made the short journey from Sandringham House to the church with other royals, including the 96-year-old Duke of Edinburgh.

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(Joe Giddens/PA)

She seemed at ease, smiling and chatting as they walked alongside William and Kate, who is pregnant with her third child.

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(Joe Giddens/PA)

The Queen, who was too unwell to attend last year’s service after being struck down with a cold, arrived separately with the Duchess of Cornwall in a royal Bentley and joined the group from the house, which also included the Prince of Wales.

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The Queen greets well-wishers (Joe Giddens/PA)

Hundreds of well-wishers turned out to catch a glimpse of the royal family, with some arriving in the middle of the night to ensure a good view.

As they emerged from the church after the service, Ms Markle and the Duchess of Cambridge both curtsied to the Queen as the monarch chose return to Sandringham House by car as well.

Then both Ms Markle and Harry, and William and Kate stopped to chat to some of the well-wishers.

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Among them was Judith Wallis, who was sitting in a wheelchair and is staying at the neighbouring Park House Hotel on her first Christmas Day visit to Sandringham.

She said Harry recognised her teddy bear called Maureen, which is a mascot for Armed Forces charity SSAFA, and her hat, which bore the Gurkha regiment emblem.

She said Ms Markle spoke to them too.

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(Joe Giddens/PA)

“She said lots of things,” said Ms Wallis, who is in her 70s and from Chesterfield. “She was very, very lovely.”

Tess Gilder, manager of Park House, which describes itself as a unique hotel for disabled people, was with Ms Wallis.

She said of Ms Markle: “She was just so natural, so lovely.”

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Ms Markle outside the church (Joe Giddens/PA)

She added: “I think they just wished us a Happy Christmas and were interested in whether we had been before.”

Emily Randall, 31, was first in the queue to get into the area by the church, with her boyfriend Jamie Mackay, 42.

She said they set out from Chichester in Sussex before 10pm on Christmas Eve and arrived at Sandringham at about 2am.

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Crowds gather outside St Mary Magdalene Church (Joe Giddens/PA)

“We thought it would be really busy,” she said.

“We looked online. We were the first ones here, camping in the dark for two hours.”

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Members of the public flocked to see the royals (Joe Giddens/PA)

She said they had missed the Queen when she visited Chichester, so decided to make the trip to Sandringham.

While the Queen made the return journey by car, the rest of the family, including the Duke of Edinburgh, walked back to the house.

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The Duke of Edinburgh with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (Joe Giddens/PA )

Ms Markle was wearing a long, wide-collared camel wrap coat with a brown hat and brown knee-length suede boots.

The coat, by luxury Canadian brand Sentaler, is made from baby alpaca wool and sells for £986 on the company’s website.

She was clutching a brown leather Chloe pixie bag, which sells for £1,400.

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(Joe Giddens/PA)

The bag looked new but it was not known if it was a Christmas gift.

Back at Sandringham House, the royal family traditionally enjoy Sandringham-reared turkey before settling down to watch TV, including the Queen’s Christmas message, which this year includes a reference to welcoming new members into the royal family in 2018.

She seemed at ease, smiling and chatting as they walked alongside William and Kate, who is pregnant with her third child.

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The Duchess of Cambridge outside St Mary Magdalene Church (Joe Giddens/PA)
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The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge outside the church ( Joe Giddens/PA)
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The Prince of Wales laughs as the Duke of York catches a blown-away hat (Joe Giddens/PA)
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Michael Metz of the US seized the opportunity to propose to girlfriend Ashley Millican while waiting for the royals (Sam Russell/PA)
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The Count of Wessex with the Princess Royal (Joe Giddens/PA)
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Security checks in the grounds ahead of the service (Joe Giddens/PA)

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