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THURSDAY, 17 APR 2014
06:56 AM Beirut time
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It's a wrap for baby George as British royals celebrate Christmas
Agence France Presse
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (2nd R) receives flowers following a traditional Christmas Day Church Service at Sandringham in eastern England, on December 25, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (2nd R) receives flowers following a traditional Christmas Day Church Service at Sandringham in eastern England, on December 25, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS
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SANDRINGHAM, United Kingdom: Prince William and his wife Catherine left their baby son Prince George to revel in wrapping paper as the British royal family made their Christmas Day outing to church.

William said it had been a good morning with the five-month-old, while Kate revealed he was more interested in wrapping paper than his presents.

As per tradition, the royals were spending their winter break at Queen Elizabeth II's private Sandringham residence in Norfolk, eastern England.

Their Christmas Day visit to St Mary Magdalene Church is a rare chance to see them all together up close and speak to them as they leave.

William and Kate strolled along hand in hand, with George staying indoors.

The baby prince, born on July 22, is fourth in the line of succession, directly in line to inherit the throne after 87-year-old Queen Elizabeth's eldest son Prince Charles, 65, and 31-year-old William, his eldest son.

William told the crowd: "We've had a good morning with George and I can't wait until next year when he's bigger."

Cicely Howard, 75, from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, asked Kate about the baby.

"She told me he was having a lovely day but was more interested in the wrapping paper than the presents," she said.

While the family walked to the church, the Queen arrived by car accompanied by her heavily pregnant eldest grand-daughter, the former equestrian world champion Zara Phillips.

William's brother Prince Harry was still sporting the ginger beard he grew while trekking to the South Pole earlier this month with disabled armed forces veterans from Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States.

He said he intended to keep the look as it was a "royal tradition".

Newspaper reports said it was the largest gathering of the family at Christmas in years, with all of the Queen's descendants and her late sister princess Margaret's descendants in attendance.

Reports said that as 30 royals were staying at Sandringham, some were having to sleep in the servants' quarters.

Last year Harry was absent because he was serving in Afghanistan as an army attack helicopter pilot, while William and Kate spent Christmas with her family.

The queen's husband Prince Philip, 92, spent Christmas 2011 in hospital after suffering chest pains, but strode briskly into church this year.

While most people in Britain open their presents on Christmas Day, the royals follow the German tradition and open theirs on Christmas Eve. The queen apparently prefers practical gifts that are not overly extravagant.

After dinner, the ladies adjourn and Prince Philip serves port or brandy to the men.

Following their visit to the church, lunch is served at 1:00 pm -- usually a giant turkey reared on the estate.

While the royal family gathers round the television to watch Queen Elizabeth's Christmas Day broadcast to the Commonwealth at 3:00 pm, the sovereign sometimes watches it alone in another room.

 
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