April 23 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
In recent years, the Queen’s arrival at King’s Lynn station has become a famliar festive sight.
As she pulls on her head scarf and walks down the platform with other passengers alighting from the London train, her thoughts will be a short ride away at Sandringham, where she will oversee arrangements for the Royal Family’s Christmas gathering.
There is a tree from her own forest to be chosen. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were the first to popularise what has gone on to become the festive centre piece of nearly every home.
Then there are also preparations for lunch to be overseen. As well as the Royal Family, along with the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents Michael and Carole Middleton are expected to sit down for a Norfolk turkey with all the trimmings, on December 25.
Also expected are the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew and his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie; the Princes Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence; Zara Phillips and Mike Tyndall; Peter and Autumn Phillips and their daughter Savannah; the Count and Countess of Wessex and their children Lady Louise and Viscount Severn. There is also speculation Prince Harry’s girlfriend Cressida Bonas has been invited to Norfolk.
Most will arrive on Christmas Eve, prior to high tea. One perk of being Royalty is you get to open your presents on Christmas Eve - a throwback to the Windsors’ German origins.
There is a long-standing competition to see who can buy the cheapest and most amusing gift. The Queen reportedly once received a shower cap sporting the observation ‘Ain’t life a b*tch’, while the Duke of Edinburgh was given a grow your own girlfriend kit.
This year will be a special one, as five-month-old Prince George joins the rest of his extended family at the Monarch’s Norfolk retreat for his first Christmas.
Whether he will be making an appearence on Christmas day, when the Queen and her family attend morning service at the nearby Church of St Mary Magdalen, remains to be seen.
His parents Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge might decide to keep the little heir to the throne in the warm.
Crowds of well-wishers at Sandringham have increased in recent years, peaking in 2011 when the newly-married Cambridges joined other senior Royals on Christmas Day.
Many queue from the early hours to get a good vantage point for the occasion, which is usually the only day of the year on which the entire Royal Family is seen together.
Veteran Royal watcher Mary Relph, 79, from Shouldham, near Downham Market, said she would be spared the early start this year.
“I’ve been going up there since 1988,” she said. “The police let me through now I’m getting too old to stand there outside the gate at 5am. I’m nearly 80.”