Queens great-grandkids will bring joy to first Christmas without Philip, says expert

Christmas is likely to be a very different celebration for the Royal Family this year as they face their first festive gathering without ‘life and soul’ Prince Philip.

The royals are expected to gather at Sandringham in Norfolk as usual for Christmas where the Queen will host her family, explains royal expert Duncan Lancombe.

“Philip was always at the heart of Christmas at Sandringham and his absence is going to be keenly missed,” he told OK!.

For the Queen, the Christmas break is an opportunity to take a well-earned break from one of the most challenging years of her 69-year reign, her first as a widow.

“The Queen is going to spend Christmas with three generations of her family, including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” says Duncan. “She will want to be close to them and make it special for them rather than focusing on it being the first Christmas without Philip.

“I’m sure the queen will be hoping that the hole will be filled with the noise of laughter and fun being had by her great-grandchildren.”

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Although Prince Philip's presence will obviously be greatly missed.

“The Duke was the one who would put the gold star on top of the Christmas tree and the one who organised the traditional Boxing Day shoot, which many family members always attend. Philip had a love not only for Christmas but for the whole Sandringham estate."

"Philip was the one who told everybody when they could open their gifts, and poured the drinks for the family on his own Christmas Eve drinks reception.

“There will be a big gap to fill and the big question will be who is going to take on Prince Philip’s role.

“It may be that Charles is the one. The Royal Family tends to arrive for gatherings in order of seniority and even the seating plan is based on who’s the most senior, so it may follow that Charles will step up to pull the whole thing together.”

This year, close family members including William and Kate and their family are expected to join the Queen at Sandringham. Traditionally, the family arrives on Christmas Eve when the tree is decorated and modest presents are exchanged.

On Christmas morning, the royals attend a church service and the following day’s Boxing Day shoot is always a firm family favourite.

“The whole Sandringham estate is geared towards the Royal Family’s Christmas visit,” says Duncan. “There are hundreds of people working there, from gamekeepers to farmers and gardeners. It’s important for the royals to keep the traditions going. The Boxing Day shoot, for example, is the focus of many of the staff’s entire year.

“So it’s likely these traditions will be maintained even without Philip there as host.”

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