What Church Does Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family Attend?

Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

When Queen Elizabeth II and her royal entourage are in residence at Sandringham House, they attend worship services at the parish church of St. Mary Magdalene. On Christmas morning, the Queen and her family typically make the trip from Her Majesty’s estate to the centuries-old house of prayer by foot. This year, however, the Queen arrived by car.

A family affair

Speculation that Prince William and Kate Middleton would spend the holiday with her family in Bucklebury was noted by People magazine. But at the last minute, the young royals opted to celebrate Christmas with their kids at their home in Anmer Hall. Harry and Meghan spent the winter holidays at Sandringham House with the Queen.

On Christmas day, the sons of Lady Diana and Prince Charles made the traditional walk to church accompanied by their wives. Despite rumors that Meghan and Kate do not generally enjoy each others company, sources close to the royals said the women got along quite well that day.

“They really loved Christmas and all had a wonderful time,” the source told People. “I think the two women got on. They are definitely not best friends, but it was a really special time for them all to spend together.”

A few royals missed this season’s Christmas service

Queen Elizabeth at Christmas

Queen Elizabeth II | John Stillwell/AFP/Getty Images

Her Majesty’s husband, Prince Philip, and Prince Charles’ wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, were not in attendance at the 2018 Christmas services. According to Town and Country magazine, 97-year-old Philip was feeling out of sorts and opted to spend the day in seclusion at Sandringham House.

On December 29, the Queen revisited the St. Mary Magdalene church with her youngest son, Prince Edward, and his daughter, Lady Louise. The well-outfitted monarch donned a dark pink coat and flower-festooned hat for the occasion, reported International Business Times.

Her Majesty returns

On the last day of 2018, Her Majesty returned to the church to attend worship services with Prince Edward and Lady Louise. This time, Prince William and Kate Middleton also accompanied the Queen to the church of St. Mary Magdalene, but Prince Harry and his spouse, Meghan Markle, were absent.

On the morning of January 6, Prince William and his wife repeated the traditional royal walk from Sandringham to the church to attend services with the Queen. Kate wore a black and white polka dot dress, a blue Jane Taylor headband, and her favorite blue overcoat. William’s outfit comprised blue pants, a crisp white button-down shirt, and a red tie, reported People.

A few words about St. Mary Magdalene church

Owned and overseen by the Church of England, the church of St. Mary Magdalene in Westbourne Green, Norfolk is a 16th-century sandstone structure that features Gothic arches, boxed pews, gilded woodwork, and a pulpit festooned with silver. The altar, also made of silver and decorated with the royal coat of arms, was gifted to King Edward VII and his bride, Queen Alexandria, by an American department store owner in 1909.

The Queen’s favorite church also features a jewel-encrusted Bible that is adorned with hundreds of sapphires, white opals, and emeralds. The fanciful holy book was a gift from the same American donor who provided the silver altar. Portions of the original church that was erected on the spot in the 13th century were included when the structure was demolished and rebuilt in 1690.

Architect George Porter further altered the structure in 1830 when he remodeled the west end of the church, removed a portico, and restored a stained glass window that dates back to medieval times. St. Mary Magdalene church is chock-full of amazing artifacts, including a pipe organ that has been in place since 1851.

The stately old church survived the Blitz of WWII, but the interior was damaged by fire and repaired in 1971. Today, the royal family‘s preferred church holds the distinction of being the oldest structure in the area.