Royal family to attend Christmas Day service

The Queen is to be joined by members of the royal family as they attend the annual Christmas Day service at Sandringham.

Although the Duke of Edinburgh was discharged from hospital on Christmas Eve, it is unlikely he will attend the church service on the Queen’s private estate in Norfolk.

The duke was admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London on Friday and spent four nights undergoing treatment for an undisclosed ongoing health issue.

The Duke of Edinburgh attended the church service in 2017 (pictured), but it is unlikely he will attend this year (Joe Giddens/PA)
The Duke of Edinburgh attended the church service in 2017 (pictured), but it is unlikely he will attend this year (Joe Giddens/PA)

The 98-year-old, who received minor injuries after being involved in a car crash near the estate in January, missed the service at St Mary Magdalene Church last year to stay at home, despite being in good health at the time.

It is also unlikely that the Duke of York will arrive with the Queen, as he did in 2018, amid the fallout from a disastrous television interview about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew stepped down from public duties for the foreseeable future following his appearance on BBC Newsnight, when he was heavily criticised for showing little remorse over his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein.

In the interview, the duke denied claims he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions.

The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of Sussex at the Christmas Days service in 2018 (Joe Giddens/PA)
The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of Sussex at the Christmas Day service in 2018 (Joe Giddens/PA)

Andrew’s daughter Princess Beatrice is expected to be joined by fiance Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi for the first time at the church, after the Daily Mail reported the Queen had extended an invitation to the property tycoon.

In another departure from last year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will not walk into the church side by side with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Harry and Meghan will be celebrating Archie Mountbatten-Windsor’s first festive season with the duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, instead of joining the royal family’s traditional celebration in Norfolk.

Their choice to spend Christmas away from Sandringham follows claims of a rift, first between Meghan and Kate, which appeared to have been been quashed as they arrived together at last year’s service, and then between Harry and brother William.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Archie on their Africa tour earlier this year (Toby Melville/PA Wire)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Archie on their Africa tour earlier this year (Toby Melville/PA Wire)

In an ITV television documentary broadcast in October, Harry, when asked about the situation, said he loved his brother dearly but they were “on different paths at the moment”.

Well-wishers who gather to see the royals take their traditional stroll to the church may be hoping to catch a glimpse of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

If so, it would be the first time the younger royals have attended the Christmas Day service.

As the Queen is head of the Church of England, it is a key part of royal celebrations.

Following the service, the Windsors enjoy a festive lunch back at Sandringham House and then settle down together to watch the Queen’s Christmas Day speech.

In her broadcast to the nation and the Commonwealth, the Queen is to acknowledge the “bumpy” path the royal family and the nation has experienced over the past 12 months.

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