When will the Prince of Cambridge make his first visit to Norfolk?

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge walk to church on Christmas Day at Sandringham. Picture: Matthew Usher. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge walk to church on Christmas Day at Sandringham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
9:33 AM

Quaint scenes outside a tiny Norfolk church have become part and parcel of Christmas Day, as thousands of well-wishers wait in the cold to greet the Queen and members of the Royal Family.

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Prince is bound to be quizzed at show

There’ll only be one topic of conversation when Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Sandringham Flower Show next week.

As the couple make their usual tour of marquees and exhibits they’ll inevitably be asked how the new baby and his parents are getting on.

When he arrived on a visit to the east Yorkshire village of Burton Fleming yesterday, Prince Charles was greeted by a crowd of pensioners who chorused: “Grandad, we love you, Grandad, we do.” He could well face one or two similar impromptu celebrations at Sandringham.

Thousands are expected to flock to the Royal Estate for next Wednesday’s show – affectionately dubbed Britain’s biggest church fete.

The Prince of Wales has been an enthusiastic supporter of the show, which was started nearly 150 years ago, to encourage tenants on the Norfolk estate to look after their cottage gardens.

Today it has grown into a glorious celebration of gardening and outdoor living, which is one of the biggest one-day events of its kind.

International interest in William and Kate has seen numbers swell in recent years, with millions more watching around the world.

The occasion is also the only day of the year that the entire Royal Family is usually seen together, with most members walking from Sandringham House the short distance through the grounds to the carrstone Church of St Mary Magdalene for morning service.

The Duke and Duchess are almost certain to be at Sandringham at Christmas. While they and the Royal baby are likely to visit Norfolk privately before then, December 25 may be the first time they are seen in public in the county.

Royal watchers around the world will be hoping for a glimpse of the baby – although the couple may well decide to leave their infant in the warmth of the house.

The Queen’s first great-grandchild’s name was revealed to the world a few days after she was born, in January 2011, when the vicar asked the congregation to pray for Peter and Autumn Phillips and their daughter Savannah.

But while the Queen’s grandson and his wife attended church, after bringing Savannah to Norfolk in February to meet her grandmother, Princess Anne; great grandmother the Queen and Prince Philip, the baby stayed behind at the house.

William and Kate are likely to face a barrage of questions from the crowds about how the future king is doing – along with an avalanche of presents.

Many avid Royal fans will already have their knitting needles out, or be searching for princely bootees and babygros.

As well as flowers and cards for the Queen, the inevitable queue of children outside church are bound to be laden with presents for her third great-grandchild.

As the boy grows, he is certain to become a favourite with the crowds –as his father and uncle were when their late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, walked them to church.

Large crowds could pose extra problems for both the police and members of the public, many of whom are regulars who attend every year, some driving half way across the country and queueing in the cold hours before dawn to secure their spot.

While security may appear slight at first glance, Norfolk’s Royal Protection Squad is backed up by a ring of steel, with armed officers and personal protection officers from the Met shoulder to shoulder with the specials.

Everyone entering the part through the narrow iron gates by the war memorial is frisked. Large crowds queuing two years ago, when Kate and William were due to appear as a married couple for the first time, meant some failed to get in.

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