March 8 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Reporter Sabah Meddings mingled with the crowds at Sandringham on Christmas Day.
As Santa Claus was busy delivering presents to homes across the region, several eager families were already gathering at the Sandringham estate to ensure they had the best possible chance of greeting the Queen and her family.
Some braved the December cold from as early as 4am to secure the best view, with the crowds swelling up until their arrival at around 10.50am.
There was a festive buzz in the air, as, hot tea and coffee in hand and dressed in the occasional Santa hat, the well-wishers waited to catch a glimpse of their favourite member of the royal family.
A little girl could be heard chatting about who she most wanted to see, while a well-prepared couple armed themselves with ladders to ensure the perfect view.
Those gathered faced a choice between seeing the family walk from the gates to the church, or waiting –across the grass – to catch a glimpse of the Queen drive past in her limousine from the main road.
After securing a good spot next to the road, four-year-old Anna Fairbrother, of Wisbech, hoped to hand the queen her posy and wish her a Merry Christmas.
Mum Karen, 35, said: “All she wanted to do this Christmas was to bring the Queen some flowers.”
At about 10.50am, the gates finally opened and the Duke of Edinburgh came slowly strolling out, followed by the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Prince Harry and the rest of the family.
There was no sign of Prince George, but the crowd soon forgot that disappointment.
Straining to catch a glimpse of the Duchess of Cambridge’s green hat across the crowd, Anna almost missed the Queen as she drove past to arrive at the church with her family.
Speakers broadcast the service across the grounds, giving visitors the chance to join in with the Christmas service and carols.
But the real excitement came afterwards, when children were called up onto the road to have their moment with the family – to wish the Queen a Merry Christmas or just to shake hands.
Ten-year-old Kate Elizabeth Barnes, of Suffolk, said she had a conversation with the Duke of Cambridge.
She said: “Prince William asked if Father Christmas came and if we were having turkey for lunch.
“I was so excited because I have the same name as Kate Middleton.
“I feel like royalty.”
Wiktoria Marcinek, five, of Checker Street, Kings Lynn, stood up with hundreds of other children to give flowers to the family.
She said: “I was so excited. We come here every year.”
Friends Mandy Banquer, 32, and Mary Martinez, 29, of RAF Mildenhall came to see if the excitement would distract them from the absence of their husbands, who are away serving in Afghanistan.
Mrs Banquer said: “Now that Prince William shook my hand I can tell my husband I spent Christmas with a prince.”