Holding hands, Prince William and Princess Kate made their way to church Thursday morning for Christmas services with the rest of the royal family.
The couple, both 32, left Prince George at home to enjoy his presents as they joined Queen Elizabeth and cousins Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie at St. Mary Magdalene church on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England.
The Queen, 88, in pink coat and hat, arrived in a Bentley, while her husband, Prince Philip, 93, and the rest of the royals, including Prince Harry, walked the short distance from the main Sandringham House.
About 500 well-wishers – some had been there since 5 a.m. – gathered to see the royals in the sunny but chilly weather. They were treated to the sounds of Christmas carols, like “Once in Royal David’s City,” which were sung inside.
And while some of those fans may have been disappointed that Prince George was not there, it was somewhat expected, as royal children often aren’t seen at public services until 4 or 5 years of age.
Notably absent was Prince Charles’s wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall – she is suffering from a bad back.
As they headed back to Sandringham House for a lunch of Norfolk turkey and other festivities, pregnant Kate received bouquets of flowers from onlookers. This is the third time the couple has spent Christmas on the Sandringham Estate since they wed in 2011.
After lunch, the royals watched the annual TV address by the Queen, in which she paid tribute to the aid workers fighting the Ebola crisis.
“Bringing reconciliation to war or emergency zones is an even harder task, and I have been deeply touched this year by the selflessness of aid workers and medical volunteers who have gone abroad to help victims of conflict or of diseases like Ebola, often at great personal risk,” she said.
The Queen continued: “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.
“A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing,” she said. “Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.”
William and Kate are staying at their country home, Anmer Hall, two miles away, with Kate’s family, including siblings Pippa and James.
On Christmas Eve, James joined Prince Harry, 30, for a game of soccer with estate workers.
Despite not being seen on Christmas Day, Prince George has been getting in the holiday mood. He recently visited a Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park and enjoyed a trip to see Santa near the family’s country home.
Earlier this month, William and Kate released three cute photographs of George to update the public on his progress and thank the media for giving him an intrusion-free first 17 months.