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Royals celebrate Christmas at Sandringham

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Media captionThe BBC's Jenny Hill said hundreds of people had queued to catch a glimpse of the Royals

Members of the Royal Family are celebrating Christmas at the Queen's country retreat Sandringham in Norfolk.

They attended a church service on the estate before going on to make a traditional public appearance.

But Prince William is not there because he has to carry out his military duties, and neither is his fiancee Kate Middleton.

Newly engaged Zara Phillips is expected to be with her England rugby player fiance Mike Tindall in Gloucestershire.

Christmas message

Prince William will be absent because he is on call with his search and rescue squadron at RAF Valley on Anglesey.

Ms Middleton is thought to be spending Christmas Day privately with her family in Berkshire.

The BBC's Jenny Hill said the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie had all been seen out and about at Sandringham on Saturday morning before going to church.

Members of the public gathered at Sandringham from early on Christmas morning to greet the Royal Family as they left the service at St Mary Magdalene Church.

The Queen's Christmas message will be broadcast at 1500 GMT.

Buckingham Palace says the monarch has made sport the central focus of her message this year.

She emphasises how it can be used to build communities and create harmony, and highlights the important role that volunteers play.

The message will also focus on how sport can be used to encourage the development of vital social skills.

Christmas Day messages are normally recorded at Buckingham Palace, but this year the Queen suggested Hampton Court Palace, the first time it has been used.

The broadcast, produced by ITN, will be available on the Royal Channel of the YouTube website.

It will also be shown in Commonwealth countries and on the British Forces Broadcasting Service.

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