Kate opts for festive berry shade to celebrate first Christmas at Sandringham

-Three thousand people flock to church to greet Royals
-Stunning Duchess of Cambridge joins Royals for Christmas service
-Family join community for mass and pray for Prince Philip's recovery

By Sadie Whitelocks and Rebecca English

The Duchess of Cambridge joined members of the Royal Family for her first Christmas at Sandringham

Dressed head-to-toe in a festive berry shade the Duchess of Cambridge couldn't stop beaming as she celebrated her first Christmas at Sandringham.

All eyes were on the 29-year-old as she attended a community service with her husband, Prince William yesterday morning.

She teamed a simple knee-length frock coat with black £180 platforms from LK Bennett, but the real head turner was a hat by milliner Jane Corbett, who regularly creates pieces for the Middleton family.

A pair of diamond drop earrings – possibly a Christmas present - were also on display as she wore her hair in a half up, half down creation

Other members of the royal family who attended the private service included the Queen, the Countess of Wessex, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge.

Kate's presence helped attract a record 3,000 well-wishers to St Mary Magdalene church on the Norfolk estate and police were on hand to manage crowds.

The Queen opted for a lavender wool boucle coat by her dressmaker Karl Ludwig, upon which she had pinned a diamond shell brooch with a pearl at the centre, with a matching white and ivory hat by Angela Kelly.

She accepted dozens of bouquets helped by three of her grandchildren, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and the Wessexes’ daughter Lady Louise Windsor.

Zara Philips, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie also looked elegant in understated ensembles.with clutch bags to hand.

Zara – who now uses the surname Tindall – attended the traditional event with her husband, Mike, wearing a black collared coat topped with a black ruched hat.

Sisters Beatrice and Eugenie, who accompanied their father Prince Andrew, both selected smart double breasted pea coats in shades of black and grey accessorised with matching berets.

Many were eager to hear about Prince Philip's health after the 90-year-old was admitted to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge last Friday after suffering chest pains.

Greeting members of the public, Prince Charles told Carmilla Fitt, 71, from Dover, that his father’s health was ‘coming on’. He added: ‘He is very well and in very good spirits. He is very determined.’

Asked by other wellwishers about his grandfather, the Duke of Cambridge said he was ‘very well, thank you – getting much better’.

Commentators were surprised by the turnout on Christmas Day, and thousands of fans battled to get a photograph of the Duchess as she walked along the church pathway.

Alison Croose, from King’s Lynn, said: ‘I have not seen crowds like this since back into the Diana days.

Dressed to impress: At her first Royal Christmas the Duchess of Cambridge looked elegant in a simple maroon outfit by a British designer, while the Queen wore a lavender coat with a glittering diamond and pearl brooch

Zara Phillips - who now uses the name Tindall - attended the traditional event with her husband, Mike, wearing a black collared coat topped with a black ruched hat

Understated princesses: It was only Eugenie's peony that stood out (left) while Beatrice looked smart in a simple coat and hat with a clutch bag

‘It reminded me of the Diana years – when she introduced Prince William to the crowds when he was about seven or eight. It was touching. Diana used to have her hand on his back.

‘Now you see William with his hand on Kate’s back. It was really nice.’

After returning to the main house for Christmas lunch and, of course, the Queen’s Speech on television, the royal grandchildren left the family gathering to visit Prince Philip in hospital, arriving at 4.14pm.

William drove his cousins, Peter Phillips and his sister Zara, in a Land Rover.

Behind him Prince Harry was at the wheel of another 4X4 accompanied by Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.

The group stayed for 45 minutes – just enough to raise the elderly duke’s spirits on Christmas Day without tiring him out – before returning to Sandringham.

Buckingham Palace officials said Philip ‘remains in good spirits’ and added: ‘The Queen will continue to be briefed on his condition. We do not have details of a release date at this stage.’

The duke was airlifted to hospital on Friday night after complaining of severe chest pains and was discovered to have a blocked artery which was starving his heart of oxygen.

He underwent a ‘minor’ invasive procedure under local anaesthetic to insert a stent into the artery, freeing the flow of blood.

The prognosis is extremely good, although doctors are understandably cautious about a man of his age.

The Duchess of Cornwall wore a colourful ensemble (left) while the Queen Queen opted for a lavender wool boucle coat by Karl Ludwig (right)

Delighting the crowds: Catherine accepts some flowers from a young girl

First Christmas as a married couple: Prince William escorted his stunning wife to the church

Plum centre of attention Kate, flanked by William and Harry on either side, in her striking Jane Corbett hat

Poignantly, the Queen celebrated the importance of the family in her Christmas Day message yesterday, highlighting the recent weddings of her grandchildren, Prince William and Zara Phillips, as a reminder of the ‘God-given love that binds a family together’.

Sadly, she said, it often brought tragedy to bring out the best in people but stressed that in time of hardship, families provided the strength to see the hard times through.

‘In this past year my family and I have been inspired by the courage and hope we have seen in so many ways in Britain, in the Commonwealth and around the world,’ she said.

‘We’ve seen that it’s in hardship that we often find strength from our families; it’s in adversity that new friendships are sometimes formed; and it’s in a crisis that communities break down barriers and bind together to help one another.

‘Families, friends and communities often find a source of courage rising up from within. Indeed, sadly, it seems that it is tragedy that often draws out the most and the best from the human spirit.’

Christmas cheer: Prince Harry beamed as he met the crowds who offered the Royal family flowers and well-wishes while Zara looked chic in a black ruched hat

Adored: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is presented with a rose by a little girl

Wrapped up warm: Princess Eugenie of York and pregnant Autumn Phillips waited outside the church after the service and prayers for Prince Philip

She added: ‘The importance of family has, of course, come home to Prince Philip and me personally this year with the marriages of two of our grandchildren, each in their own way a celebration of the God-given love that binds a family together.

‘For many this Christmas will not be easy. With our Armed Forces deployed around the world, thousands of service families face Christmas without their loved ones at home. The bereaved and the lonely will find it especially hard. And, as we all know, the world is going through difficult times.’

With his elder brother taken off the market, it was Prince Harry who was the subject of most female attention.

Several shrieking girls in the crowd tried to attract the 27-year-old prince’s attention.

He obliged by giving one a kiss. Inundated with requests from other fans, he blushed and said: ‘I can’t give you a kiss. I’ve already kissed her.’

Also in the royal party, Canadian-born Autumn Phillips – daughter-in-law of Princess Anne – patted her bump protectively. She is expecting her second baby with the princess’s son, Peter, in the spring.

Joining in the festivities: A smiling Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge looked stylish

Family gathering: Catherine, seen here with Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, is spending her first Christmas with the Royals

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