Queen and members of the Royal Family gather in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 11:25 20 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:00 20 December 2017
© Archant Norfolk 2014
As members of her family arrive in perfectly choreographed order, the Queen can look forward to a bumper gathering at Sandringham.
While the world’s eyes may well be on the newly-engaged Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the monarch will have more than 20 of her children, grand children and great-grand children joining her for Christmas.
She will have travelled to Norfolk a few days before the rest of her clan arrive to oversee preparations including choosing a tree from her own sawmill.
Along with the minutiae of decorations, menus and place settings, there may also be time to check on the progress of horses at the nearby Royal Stud.
Younger members of the family put the finishing touches to the tree when the family gather at 4pm on Christmas Eve.
In a nod to their German origins, this is when presents are exchanged. Family members out do each other to see who can buy the cheapest, tackiest gift.
Prince Harry, who once reportedly received a grow your own girlfriend kit, is said to have given the Queen a bath cap bearing the motto “ain’t life a b*tch”.
Once the wrapping paper is off, family members enjoy drinks before changing for dinner. That means a black tie for the men and gowns and jewels for the women, before a candlelit three-courses followed by drinks.
Christmas Day starts with a full english, before the traditional stroll to church. Well wishers pack the field beside the tiny church.
Numbers are likely to be swollen by those hoping to catch a glimpse of newly-engaged Harry and Meghan.
After church, the family returns to the house for Christmas lunch of turkey with all the trimmings, including vegetables grown on Sandringham’s organic farms.
Some depart during the afternoon to spend Christmas elsewhere. Others join the traditional Boxing Day pheasant shoot, led by the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Queen and Prince Philip usually spend January at Sandringham. The Queen stays on until after February 6 - the day in which she acceded to the throne in 1953, after her father King George VI died in his sleep at Sandringham.