Queen Elizabeth II was cheered by onlookers when she and other senior royals arrived at a Christmas church service on the grounds of one of her country estates.
The 92-year-old queen arrived by car on Tuesday morning while younger royals walked from her grand country house in Sandringham to nearby St Mary Magdalene Church.
Prince Charles led the way, followed by his sons: Prince William and his wife Catherine and Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who is expecting their first child in the spring.
Harry and Meghan walked arm in arm next to William and Catherine. Many in the crowd wished the young royals a “Merry Christmas” as they strolled to the church on a cold wintry day in the English countryside.
Later they received flowers from the crowd after the 45-minute service as they headed back to Sandringham House ahead of a traditional Christmas lunch.
The queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who is 97 and largely retired from public life, did not attend the church service. Charles’ wife Camilla, who is recovering from flu, also skipped the service.
Many other members of the royal family were also in attendance. Prince Andrew, the queen’s son, arrived by car with his mother. Princess Eugenie, one of the queen’s grandchildren, arrived with her new husband Jack Brooksbank.
Britain’s royals usually exchange small gifts on Christmas Eve, a practice popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The queen typically frowns on extravagant gifts and many of the presents are novelty items.
When the queen was younger, there would typically be a brisk family walk through the woods on Christmas or an excursion on horseback.
The queen’s pre-recorded annual message to Britain and the 52 other Commonwealth nations was televised in the afternoon.
Queen Elizabeth II wove personal reflections into her annual Christmas message, offering the customary wishes for peace and saying she hoped she had attained a measure of wisdom during her 92 years.
“Some cultures believe a long life brings wisdom,” Elizabeth said in a pre-recorded message broadcast Tuesday. “I’d like to think so. Perhaps part of that wisdom is to recognise some of life’s baffling paradoxes, such as the way human beings have a huge propensity for good and yet a capacity for evil.”
On a lighter note, the queen noted that 2018 was a busy year for her family: two weddings, two new babies and another due next year.
“It helps to keep a grandmother well occupied,” she said.
Elizabeth made her first Christmas Day broadcast on the radio in 1952, the year she ascended to the throne. She made the move to television in 1957.
She has broadcast the message each year since, with the exception of 1969. The queen felt the royal family had gotten enough TV exposure that year while allowing unusual access for a TV documentary.
That year, the message only appeared in writing.