William and Kate set to join the Queen, along with thousands of well-wishers, for Christmas day service at Sandringham in Norfolk

Tomorrow could see record numbers of well-wishers queuing to greet the Royal Family as they attend the Christmas Day service at Sandringham.

If there's one endearing sight that sums up Christmas, it's the children queueing patiently outside the little church at Sandringham, with cards and flowers for the Queen.

Thousands of well-wishers look on, as the Monarch has a word or two with each in turn.

Along with the patriotic, the locals, the dyed in the wool Royal watchers and the camera-toting foreign tourists, there have been increasing numbers of younger people attending the uniquely informal occasion recent years - as younger members of the Royal Family have taken centre stage.

Tomorrow the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - William and Kate - will doubtless prove an even bigger draw, perhaps even the biggest yet in terms of numbers attending what remains a low-key, informal occasion.

Apart from the odd diversion, like how will the Queen find room for all her guests this year or will the turkey be big enough to go round, the couple have dominated media coverage of the Royals' now traditional Christmas break in Norfolk.

What the Duchess wears during her brief appearance on the walk to and from church could well dominate Monday's headlines - along with any details of the other four outfits she will be changing in and out of to meet the differing demands of her first Christmas with the in-laws in Norfolk.

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Despite a large section of the media's fascination with such things, it's clear that the Queen and other members of her extended family enjoy the occasion as much as the crowd. Christmas Day is often the only occasion all year when the Royal Family are seen together.

As those on foot return to the house and the crowds depart, there will be much to reflect on behind the scenes as 2011 gives way to the 85-year-old Queen's Diamond Jubilee Year.

She will begin her year of celebration in our county, in the country retreat amid the pine woods, so beloved of her father and grand-father.

Next year also marks the 150th anniversary of the Royal Family's purchase of what was originally Sandringham Hall, for less than you might now expect to pay for a family home in one of the twee carrstone villages surrounding it.

Prince Albert and his new wife wife Princess Alexandra rebuilt the house, to make it more suitable for society gatherings and a growing family. Since 1988, when Windsor castle was being re-wired, the house has become the focal point of the Royal Family's Christmas celebrations. The Queen arrived at Sandringham on Tuesday, after catching a train from London to King's Lynn.

Each year, she personally supervises last-minute arrangements including the decorating of the tree at Sandringham, which will have come from her own sawmills on the 20,000-acre estate - where many families from West Norfolk also buy their Christmas trees.

Christmas trees can be traced back to the 15th Century in parts of Europe, but it was Queen Victoria who popularised the traditional festive centrepiece of almost every home, when a picture of her tree at Windsor Castle appeared in the Illustrated London News, of 1848.

Christmas cards were also popularised by Victoria and Albert.

A more recent tradition, almost as universal as the tree or greetings card, is the Queen's Speech on Christmas Day. Like millions of other families around the world, the Royals sit down in front of the television at Sandringham after their Christmas lunch to watch the Queen's address to the Commonwealth.

The first-ever Christmas Day speech came from Sandringham, when King George V took to the airwaves live from an improvised studio in the house.

'I speak now from my home and my heart to you all,' he began on Christmas Day, in 1932. 'To men and women so cut off by the snows, the desert, or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them.'

Continued by King George VI after his accession to the throne, the Queen made her first speech after the death of her father in 1952.

Sitting at the same desk from which the King had made his final Christmas address, which he had pre-recorded the previous year as his health deteriorated, she said: 'Each Christmas, at this time, my beloved Father broadcast a message to his people in all parts of the world. 'As he used to do, I am speaking to you from my own home, where I am spending Christmas with my family. My father and my grandfather before him worked hard all their lives to unite our peoples ever more closely, and to maintain its ideals which were so near to their hearts. I shall strive to carry on their work.'

Much has changed in the six decades since the Queen's accession, after her father passed away in his sleep at Sandringham, in February 1952.

Yet for millions, her Christmas Speech signals a time to reflect on the year that's almost passed, inspiring thoughts for others serving their country in far-flung lands, or those less-fortunate closer to home.

There are tensions elsewhere in the world which words alone will not solve, while the ever-worsening economic situation closer to home leaves many worrying over their every day bills, let alone how they'll pay for Christmas.

Perhaps there will be food for thought in the words of Rector Jonathan Riviere's Christmas sermon, broadcast outside via the estate's PA system. Many outside the tiny Church of St Mary Magdalen will join in the hymms - whose words will possess added meaning on Christmas Day.

Thousands more will wait, some of them for hours and hours, to catch a glimpse of William and Kate.

Proud parents will watch as their child greets the Queen, who stays until she has spoken to every single one, making a Christmas Day a proud little boy or girl will never forget.

For an hour or two tomorrow morning Sandringham, which has played a central part in Royal life for generations, will provide an endearing antidote to all the doom and gloom.

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