Duke and Duchess of Cambridge finally join rest of Royal Family for belated Christmas celebration – just in time for annual pheasant shoot
William and Kate arrived at Sandringham House early on Boxing DayCouple were driven 155 miles from Kate's new family homeKate joined husband for lunch at Wood Farm after he went hunting
10:00 GMT, 28 December 2012
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have finally joined the rest of the Royal Family for a belated Christmas celebration, after choosing to spend the festive season with the Middleton family instead.
William and Kate arrived at Sandringham House, the Queen’s private estate in Norfolk, early on Boxing Day just in time for Prince Philip’s annual pheasant shoot.
It was the first time the Duchess had been seen in public since she attended her office party before Christmas.
She was seen going to church with the Middleton family on Christmas Day but the Palace bizarrely requested that no pictures take of her were published.
Pregnant Kate and William, pictured outside hospital earlier this month, joined the rest of
the Royal Family for a belated Christmas celebration on Boxing Day
The couple were driven the 155 miles
from Kate’s new family home in Berkshire to East Anglia, a journey which
takes around three and a half hours, by their Scotland Yard police
William, 30, then joined his grandfather and other relatives for a morning’s hunting while Kate, who is in the early stages of pregnancy, opted to remain at the house with the Queen as it was pouring with rain. The monarch has herself only just got over a heavy cold.
But they did join their menfolk for a slap-up lunch at Wood Farm, a small lodge on the 20,000 acre estate, for a hearty lunch, chauffeur driven in a fleet of Land Rovers.
The meal was laid out in a conservatory area to the rear of the house and included cold meats, soup and flasks of steaming hot toddy, although clearly the Duchess stuck to soft drinks.
It is believed that Kate may have re-joined the shooting party after lunch, however, watching from the warmth of one of the cars.
Other members of the Royal Family present included the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke of York and his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and Prince Charles.
Charles’s wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, who has two children and five young grand-children of her own, is believed to have left to spend time with them at her own home in Wiltshire.
Sources have told the Mail that William and Kate stayed at the royal residence overnight after the shoot and are likely to remain on the estate for at least another day before they are expected to fly to Scotland for the New Year.
The Queen has a broad smile as she leaves St Mary Magdalene church in Sandringham on Christmas Day, before the Duke and Duchess arrived
William and Kate arrived just in time for Prince Philip's annual pheasant shoot after he missed last year's due to a blocked coronary artery
They tend to celebrate Hogmanay at Birkhall, Prince Charles’s private estate in the Highlands.
The couple’s surprise decision to skip the royals’ annual get-together in Norfolk in favour of a family Christmas at the Middleton’s new 4.85 million mansion in Berkshire was a distinct break with tradition.
Royal aides said the couple had the full backing of both the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and suggested that the decision had been taken in order to give Kate, who was hospitalised for three nights earlier this month with severe pregnancy-related vomiting and dehydration, the opportunity for a quiet family break.
They also asked members of the media to respect their privacy and not use any photographs taken of them, even when they attended a public service on Christmas Day at the Middleton’s village church.
Sandringham House in Norfolk where the Royal couple attended festive celebrations before flying to Scotland for New Year
But the Mail now understands that the couple had always planned to spend the festive season with Michael and Carole Middleton at their new home, a Georgian manor set in extensive grounds.
This suggests that the Cambridges may join other modern couples in spending alternate Christmases with their families in future – one of a series of changes the young Windsors are likely to ring in.
Next month St James’s Palace is to announce whether William plans to stay in the RAF, for whom he works as a Search and Rescue Pilot, after his tour of duty ends in September or leave to become a full-time working royal.
They are also due to reveal when the Cambridge’s new son or daughter, who will become third in line to the throne, is due.
Assuming the child was conceived after their return from the South Pacific at the end of September, the child is likely to be born in early summer, a busy time for the couple who will be overseeing the final renovations to Apartment 1A, their new royal residence in Kensington Palace.