A Christmas tradition for many of the people of Norfolk, and especially King’s Lynn, has now broadened to people from all over the world – watching the Royal family head in and out of the church at Sandringham, Norfolk, is now the choice of activity for people who has traveled from all over America and even Asia.
This can be annoying for those who live in the immediate area and struggle to get a place in the crowd of waiting Yanks who had set up camp hours beforehand, but I love it. It just adds to the festive atmosphere! My family and I have been going to this event not every, but most Christmases since I was a little girl and I always love it. I love listening to the service through the speakers, I love seeing the Queen clamber gracefully out of her car, watching the Duke of Edinburgh stroll up the drive and of course, dribbling over Harry as he saunters past looking hungover. It is something that just signifies Christmas for me and I love how everyone in the grounds is bustling with excitement and Christmas spirit. A pilot had even chosen to fly over the grounds leaving vapour trails in the form of a smiley face! It was great!
Last year we managed to get to see both the Hunstanton charity swimmers and the Royals, but this year we only attempted one with my Grandad in tow. We were glad we only tried for one because record crowds had gathered at the church gates on the Royal Estate at Sandringham by the time we arrived at just after 10am and found cars parked the length of the road. We managed to find a spot and strolled up to the grounds, we entered the gates and managed to find a spot in the crowd where we could wait for the Royals to appear. Normally each year the family go into church at 10am and emerge from it around 11am, but shortly after we arrived they went into the church so perhaps they were running late. This gave us a good view of the Queen emerging from her car and the others strolling up the path. (The Queen was wearing a glamorous terracotta number with a fur hat – looking amazing as ever!)
It also meant that those around us who had been waiting longer were more inclined to stroll about as they tried to keep warm so it meant we managed to get right to the front of the crowd and gave us a perfect view! We couldn’t believe how close we were, and that we actually had the best view of the family to date, considering the crowds. It was fantastic, as they were in the service, my mum and I sang along to the carols and the crowd chatted among themselves. Then, they finally started to exit the building where two huge queues, with the most children I have ever seen brandishing bouquets of flowers to give to the Queen and to the family.
The size of the queues meant the children were lined up in front of us with the Royals moving along the lines which brought them right in front of us! We couldn’t believe how close the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to us as they collected flowers and chatted to the children. Kate Middleton looked fantastic as ever in her gorgeous tartan coat and black boots – I particularly loved her choice of black hat) Countess Sophie joined them with her daughter.
And of course… My favourite member of the Royal Family, Prince Harry strolled along the path helping with bouquets and looking rather bashful and scruffy. His cheeky smile, beard and general hungover appearance only made me love him more. I actually couldn’t believe quite how close he was to me, even talking to the people around us – it was amazing to see all of them in the flesh and so close, it really made you feel patriotic, especially surrounded by all the Yanks who had traveled so far just to witness this fantastic part of British culture and tradition.
I particularly love this last picture, which looks like a type of Christmas card and really shows off Kate’s fantastic outfit. She just looks so elegant and graceful – everything that a princess should be.
I am so very lucky to live where I do and to have this amazing opportunity to take part in this tradition each Christmas, my family love the visit and so many others do as well. It is something I would really recommend to anyone who lives in the area, or further afield, who hasn’t been before.