Royal Family at Sandringham for Christmas

The Royals head to Sandringham a week before Christmas and stay there until the second week in February.

You are able to go and see the Royals on every Sunday while they are there and Christmas (all of them usually attend this service) when they walk up to the church for the 11 am service. The service lasts about 45 minutes long. On Christmas, thousands of people will be there but other days (I went on the Sunday following Christmas we arrived around 1030 and were in the front row.) there will not be as many so you have a better chance to get a view. The last weekend that they are there, they go to the service at West Newton.

You are only able to take pictures on Christmas day. The Royals relax the rules. Other days if you want to take pictures you need to stay behind the gates and fight for a place for the paparazzi's. This is because the grounds that people line up is the private property of the Queen and she would like her privacy. This is something that started in 2009.

Children used to be able to line up to give the Queen or other members of the family flowers but they have stopped this because of the size of the crowd and children were unable to find their parents afterwards. So in order to error on the side of caution, they no longer allow this practice. Instead, the children stand on the side with everyone else, so hopefully some people will allow the children to the front and wait to see if they will collect the flowers. So I would suggest not bringing any.

The church is open for everyone to attend the services EXCEPT when the Royals are instate. Then only people who live in the locals villages are allowed and they would know one another. Even if you were able to go into the service, you would not be able to make it out to see them. This is because of the way that Church of England churches work. After the service, the congregation waits for the vicar to leave the church and and then everyone slowly files out (no one leaves before the Queen). Then you say good morning to the vicar and thank him for the service.

You should bring a few coins because although you are outside of the church, they will come around for collection for either the church or a charity. You will also be able to get a sheet so that you can take part in the singing portion of the service.

Use PE35 6EH in your Sat-Nav and it will take you to the visitors centre which has a carpark right behind it. There is a gift shop, restaurant and cafe as well. Parking is always free here and located by the visitors centre which is right across the street from the church. The restrooms are also located here and the shop does not open until 10 am so plan accordingly with little ones.

Also you are standing outside in winter so you must dress very warm.

Also as it is the Queen, you can expect random security and bag checks so make sure you don't have anything you shouldn't have in them!

You can also walk the trails around Sandringham. Jane and I took our dogs for a walk in the country park. Its free and a great way to lose yourself in nature.

Prince Harry takes part in a Christmas Eve football game in Castle Rising at the Cricket Club which is open to the public. He plays against the locals.

All the Best!

American to Britain