Prince Louis and Mia Tindall lead the Royal Christmas at Sandringham (2024)

Holding hands with his second cousin Mia, five-year-old Prince Louis was beaming as he led members of the Royal family to church in Sandringham.

While many were surprised to see the return of the duch*ess of York after over three decades - it was the children who stole the show outside St Mary Magdalene Church.

Mia Tindall, who turns ten next month, walked confidently in a maroon coat alongside the three children of the Prince and Princess of Wales - ahead of her parents Zara and Mike Tindall.

While last year seemed a more sombre affair, with the service taking place within months of the late Queen’s death, this Christmas service was youthful and joyous.

The young royals had the air of an excited group of cousins - enjoying a family reunion on a Christmas morning.

Prince Louis and Mia Tindall lead the Royal Christmas at Sandringham (1)

It was an image that evoked the close relationship between their parents, Prince William and Mrs Tindall, who are only 13 months apart in age.

However, the absence of the children of the Duke and duch*ess of Sussex was felt yet again this year.

The 50-minute service itself appeared to have the young members of the congregation in mind - with the vicar heard reading a cracker joke at one point, prompting giggles.

The King and Queen were joined at the front of the procession into the church by his trusted equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Thompson.

Wearing his favourite tweed coat, which has been a staple of his wardrobe for more than four decades after he had it made by Savile Row tailors Anderson and Sheppard, the King greeted onlookers and shared a laugh with a couple with dogs dressed as Christmas puddings.

Prince Louis and Mia Tindall lead the Royal Christmas at Sandringham (2)

Among the group were the Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, the Duke and duch*ess of Edinburgh, and the Tindalls with their other daughter Lena.

Princess Anne, 73, and her husband, 68, appeared to wear matching scarves.

They wrapped up in matching charcoal and beige merino wool scarves from Highgrove and The Prince’s Foundation’s recent collaboration.

It is understood the £115 scarves were gifts from the King.

The Duke and duch*ess of Edinburgh were joined by their children Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn.

Prince Louis, smiling broadly in his tartan trousers as he held the hand of his father and cousin, was later trending on social media with many commenting on how “adorable” the young royal is.

Prince Louis and Mia Tindall lead the Royal Christmas at Sandringham (4)

But notable for their absence were Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who are understood to have celebrated Christmas at their home in Los Angeles.

It is now five years since the Duke and duch*ess of Sussex last spent Christmas in Sandringham - when they and the now-Prince and Princess of Wales were dubbed “the fab four”.

Days ago, a source close to the couple told US Weekly that the couple thought 2024 would be a “year of redemption” after a challenging 2023.

However, their absence did not dampen the high spirits at church.

Prince Louis and Mia Tindall lead the Royal Christmas at Sandringham (5)

Kevin, 62, and Penny Oldfield, 61, were among some of the earliest royal fans to arrive - leaving their hometown of Norwich at 4am and arriving at Sandringham at 6am.

It is the second time the couple have come to see the royals on Christmas Day.

Mr Oldfield said: “We are patriotic, I served in the Royal Navy for 20 years and last year I had a conversation with Prince Andrew as he saw my medal ribbon and asked me about it.

“Sandringham is just the ideal place to come and see the royals, you can’t get as close anywhere else.”

Mrs Oldfield said: “It is magical to see them - last year we wanted to support King Charles as it was his first year as King.”

Prince Louis and Mia Tindall lead the Royal Christmas at Sandringham (6)

After the service, the youngest royals were greeted with adoration from 2,000 well-wishers.

Mia, who has previously earned a reputation for being cheeky, being photographed whipping her father’s legs and sticking out her tongue, seemed to come of age among her cousins.

She left the church whispering and laughing with her cousin Charlotte, eight, who wore her hair braids and a handmade English Coat from Spanish brand Friki as the pair left the service.

Mia was later seen sharing a joke with Prince George, 10, as they appeared confident greeting the crowds.

Prince William and Mrs Tindall have always been close and were often photographed together and sharing a joke as children.

Zara, who does not have a royal title or the same pressures of royal life, is said to be a tower of strength to him and was reportedly a great comfort after his mother Diana’s death in 1997.

Prince Louis and Mia Tindall lead the Royal Christmas at Sandringham (7)

The late Princess Diana was evoked at Sandringham by the Princess of Wales who wore her diamond and sapphire earrings along with a blue Alexander McQueen coat.

She wished onlookers a Merry Christmas, asking one child what Santa had brought them and remarking on how “cool” the wooden money boxes were that were given as gifts to her three children by royal fan Gemma Clark, 43.

Ms Clark gives the royal children presents each Christmas - and last year handed them novelty toys known as “gonks”.

She said: ‘The children were very sweet and said thank you and Happy Christmas. They always seem to like my presents.’

Echoing the youthful focus of the day, even the older royals were in a playful mood.

Carols from the service - including O Little Town of Bethlehem - were broadcasted on speakers to the crowds outside.

Prince Louis and Mia Tindall lead the Royal Christmas at Sandringham (8)

Princess Beatrice, 35, was keen to find out what the royal fans thought of their singing as she left church.

“Was everyone singing well?”, she asked - prompting a roar of approval.

“I love Christmas carols, they just make you feel good,” she added.

Her father, Prince Andrew, faces another difficult year - ahead of the unsealing of a tranche of court documents which will link him and 170 others to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

But despite this burden and the fact this will be the second Christmas without his mother, the Duke of York joked with the crowd as his ex-wife and two daughters kept stopping to talk to well-wishers.

“We can’t all stop,” he said, as he walked behind his children. “If we all stop we are never going to get anywhere.”

It is understood that the senior royals were heading to spend the day at the King’s royal estate.

Prince Louis and Mia Tindall lead the Royal Christmas at Sandringham (2024)
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