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ater this month members of the Queen and Prince Philip’s immediate family will once again gather for Christmas at Sandringham House. When the host and hostess are 97 and 92 respectively, things are obviously conducted at a slightly different pace than in years gone by, but the essence of the family Christmas never changes. There is the same festive fare, the same number of staff to look after them and the timetable is almost as it was.

   This will be the Duchess of Sussex’s second Yuletide visit to Sandringham, though her first as a member of the royal family. Her mother, Doria Ragland, has also been invited.

   Sandringham is not exactly cosy and relaxing for newcomers as there are many little protocols to be observed, but Doria will be made to feel especially welcome. Anything she doesn’t understand about a traditional royal Christmas will be explained and she will fit in perfectly.

   Another of the Queen’s homes, Buckingham Palace, is being refurbished but that will not prevent the annual pre-Christmas lunch for the extended family from taking place, the prelude for the monarch’s departure for Norfolk.

   It is often the only chance that family members have to see each other’s children and grandchildren and it is a popular gathering. Nannies are on hand to look after the little ones and this year Princess Eugenie’s husband, Jack Brooksbank, will be included in the party.

   Although Meghan Markle was invited last year as Prince Harry’s fiancée, it is still unusual for unmarried partners to attend, so it will be interesting to see if Lady Gabriella Windsor’s fiancé Tom Kingston will be there. Their wedding will not be on the scale of Princess Eugenie’s and a date and venue have yet to be announced.

   This year there will not be the clatter of dozens of doggie claws that once heralded the Queen’s arrival; the last of her corgis, 12-year-old Whisper, died at the end of September. Whisper, adopted by Her Majesty in 2016 after its owner Bill Fenwick died, was devoted to the Queen and loyally followed her from room to room, anxious to always be at her side.

   Although she still has two dorgis (dachshund and corgi crosses), Candy and Vulcan, Whisper’s death brings to an end the Queen’s connection with Pembrokeshire corgis that dates back to 1944, when she received her first corgi, Susan, as an 18th birthday present from her father, King George VI.

   It has been a monumental year for the Queen and her family: the 100th anniversary of the Armistice; the centenary of the Royal Air Force; the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London and Windsor; Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May; and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s nuptials in October. Her grandson William’s third child, Prince Louis, was born in April. Her granddaughter Zara’s second child Lena arrived in June, and now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting their first child in the spring of 2019.

   On behalf of everyone at Majesty I should like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

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