More than a thousand well-wishers braved the cold to greet the Queen and members of the Royal Family, as they attended a Christmas Day service in Norfolk today.

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"She was so excited she got up early with her flowers. She’s so excited to get to see the Queen of England."

Vicky Wilkins, mum of seven-year-old Brianna

Many had waited for hours to catch a glimpse of the 84-year-old monarch, outside the picturesque church of St Mary Magdalene, at Sandringham.

The Queen arrived by limousine, dressed in a beige coat with a matching fur hat, accompanied by the Countess of Wessex.

The 89-year-old Duke of Edinburgh walked the short distance to church, along the path from nearby Sandringham House.

He was accompanied by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, Prince Andrew, with Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and the Earl of Wessex.

The Queen after today's service at Sandringham. PICTURE: Ian Burt

After the service, which was led by Revd Jonathan Riviere, Rector of Sandringham, the Queen and members of the Royal party came down the steps to the church to exchange greetings with the crowd.

More than 50 children queued up with flowers for the Queen.

First in line was eight-year-old cub scout Freedom Tansley, from Brampton, Cambs.

His mother Peg said it was the third time her son had met the Queen. As well as flowers, he gave her a picture from last year, when he met her after a service at nearby West Newton.

Cub scout Freedom Tansley greets the Queen. PICTURE: Ian Burt

“I bowed to the Queen and she said thank you,” Freedom said.

Brianna Wilkins, seven, from Salt Lake City, US, was among the children queuing to greet the Queen.

Her mother Vicky said: “She was so excited she got up early with her flowers. She’s so excited to get to see the Queen of England.”

Prince Harry, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, spoke to people in the crowd as they walked back to Sandringham House for their family Christmas Dinner.

Among them was retired social worker David Day, 72, from Northants, who was in a wheelchair.

Mr Day said Prince Harry recognised the purple coat worn by his Canine Partners assistance dog Snoopy.

The Prince has visited the kennels where the charity trains dogs to support disabled people including servicemen and women injured in Afghanistan with every day tasks.

“He was talking about the dogs helping the various forces,” said Mr Day. “We are training dogs for various ex-servicemen.”

As the Queen prepared to leave, six-year-old Anthony Yeunger ran to catch her before she got into the Royal car - carrying the yellow flower his brother Jeremy, three, had forgotten to give her.

Several members of the Royal Family did not attend the service.

They included Prince William, who spent Christmas Day on duty at RAF Valley, where he is stationed as an air sea rescue helicopter pilot.

His fiancee Kate Middleton is spending Christmas with her immediate family, who live in Berkshire.

Zara Phillips, who announced her engagement to rugby player Mike Tindall, was spending Christmas Day with her fiance at the couple’s home in Gloucester.

Also missing were Peter Phillips - 11th in line to the throne - and his wife Autumn, who are expecting a baby at any time, the Princess Royal and Vice-Admiral Tim Laurence.

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