A look at the Royal Family’s Christmas Day at Sandringham

Duke and Duchess of York, West Newton Christmas 1987

Duke and Duchess of York, West Newton Christmas 1987 - Credit: Archant

For decades Christmas Day in Norfolk has made even more special by the presence of the Royal family.

Thousands of well-wishers travel from all over the world for a glimpse of members of the family attending morning service at the Church of St Mary Magdalene at Sandringham.

The chronology of the day has, for years, been settled.

From as early as 3am on December 25, spectators queue up at the wrought iron gates to Sandringham Park, waiting for them to be opened to ensure the best view of the Royal Family as they walk to and from church, which is about a quarter of a mile from Sandringham House.

At about 10.50am the Royal Family walk past the crowds, with the Queen arriving at the same time in a car. She is often accompanied by the Countess of Wessex.

After the church service members of the family stop to talk to onlookers.

When numbers became too many, the tradition of children lining up to give flowers to the Queen stopped.

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Up until two years ago the Queen would stand for a considerable amount of time to receive bunches of flowers.

The royal party – usually totalling about 20 – then returns to Sandringham House to enjoy a dinner of Norfolk turkey and all the trimmings before watching the Queen's speech.

This particular tradition has always had a Norfolk association.

The Queen's grandfather King George V sat down at Sandringham for the monarch's first-ever Christmas message in 1932, addressing the Commonwealth via the radio.

Sitting in the same chair and at the same desk at Sandringham from which her father King George VI had made his final Christmas address, the Queen made her first speech in 1952. Former EDP royal correspondent Alison Croose said: 'What is always amazing is how far people travel on Christmas Day to see the Royal Family, which just outlines just how special it is for them.'

She added people did not always appreciate how lucky the county was to host one of the biggest public royal gatherings of the year.