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Queen and members of the royal family attend church in Sandringham for New Year’s Eve Sunday service

PUBLISHED: 16:45 31 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:03 01 January 2018

HM the Queen leaving by car after morning service at Sandringham Church. Picture: Ian Burt

HM the Queen leaving by car after morning service at Sandringham Church. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were welcomed by hundreds of well-wishers on their way to church in Sandringham this morning.

HM the Queen and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, leaving by car after morning service at Sandringham Church. Picture: Ian BurtHM the Queen and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, leaving by car after morning service at Sandringham Church. Picture: Ian Burt

They were joined by other members of the royal family, including Sophie, Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal for the New Year’s Eve Sunday service.

But there was no sign of Prince William and Kate or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who attended Sandringham church on Christmas Day.

The Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal walking to church for morning service at Sandringham Church. Picture: Ian BurtThe Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal walking to church for morning service at Sandringham Church. Picture: Ian Burt

MORE: Prince Harry reveals Meghan Markle had a ‘fantastic’ Christmas at Sandringham

More than five hundred people gathered outside St Mary Magdalene Church before the service began at 11am.

HM the Queen leaving by car after Sunday morning service at Sandringham Church. Picture: Ian Burt HM the Queen leaving by car after Sunday morning service at Sandringham Church. Picture: Ian Burt

With heavy police presence on the grounds of the church, members of the public had their bags searched before being allowed through the gates.

As is customary, 96-year-old Prince Philip and Princess Anne walked from Sandringham House on their way to the church, with many spectators wishing him a happy New Year.

The Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal walking to church for morning service at Sandringham Church. Picture: Ian BurtThe Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal walking to church for morning service at Sandringham Church. Picture: Ian Burt

The Queen arrived by Bentley dressed in a bright turquoise coat and matching hat. She waved to the applauding crowds before being escorted into the church.

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There was a large Police presence outside Sandringham Church earlier. Picture: Ian BurtThere was a large Police presence outside Sandringham Church earlier. Picture: Ian Burt

One family in the crowd travelled more than 6,000 miles to catch a glimpse of the Royal Family in their first trip to the UK.

Zen Aurea, 11, travelled from the Philippines with her mother Jo Angela Senal, father Dennis David Senal and eight-year-old brother Jared Sebastian Senal.

Zen said: “It is my first time in the UK and in Norfolk, it is amazing but very, very cold.

“It was very exciting to see the Royal Family.”

She was joined by her uncle Denyl David Senal, 31, who is also visiting the UK for the first time from Dubai.

Mr Senal said: “It is very peaceful here, seeing the royal family was mesmerising.”

The family are staying with grandmother Jess Holland, 60, from Aylsham, who had met the Duke of Edinburgh on a previous occasion. 
“I shook hands with him in 2013 when he visited the Aylsham Care Trust,” Mrs Holland said. “He is very energetic at his age.”

Spectators were able to listen to the hymns on speakers during the 45-minute service, before the 91-year-old Monarch was led out of the church by the Bishop of Norwich.

“Is that a terrorist?”

The Duke of Edinburgh is known for his punchy one-liners and cracking jokes with well-wishers on public outings.

But one man stood out from the crowd at Sandringham and was made the butt of a joke after Prince Philip spotted his long beard.

The man, who was joined by his partner and young daughter, was stood near the entrance of Sandringham House.

At 11am, Prince Philip and Princess Anne emerged and walked a few hundred yards towards St Mary Magdalene church.

As many people in the crowds were applauding and wishing them both a happy New Year, the Duke of Edinburgh was drawn to the bearded man.

He pointed at the white man and jokingly asked a royal bodyguard: “Is that a terrorist?”

The bearded man, who left Sandringham with his family before he could be identified, overheard the comment and laughed.

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