30/12/2012 10:08 GMT | Updated 30/12/2012 10:10 GMT

Kate Middleton And Prince William Miss Royal Sandringham Service With Queen

Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge and her husband were conspicuous by their absence on Sunday as the royals attended church in Sandringham.

There had been rumours that Prince William and Catherine would attend today's service after spending Christmas Day with her family in Bucklebury, Berkshire.


Kate and Wills didn't go to the church service at Sandringham

It is understood the couple paid a brief visit to the Queen's Norfolk residence this week, during which they attended a shoot on the estate, but left before today's church service.

Only a small contingent of the Royal Family, made up of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Earl and Countess of Wessex, attended the service at St Mary Magdalene Church as about 200 wellwishers looked on.

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The Queen was given flowers by a young girl as she exited the church

Members of the crowd expressed disappointment at William and Kate's absence.

However the couple had made clear earlier in December they would break with tradition and stay with Kate's parents over the festive period, requesting privacy on Christmas day.

Additionally Kate has been suffering from a form of acute morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum, and is limiting her public engagements while she recovers.

Earlier this month, it was announced that William and Kate are expecting their first child, after the duchess was admitted to hospital with the illness.

However she appeared in public earlier this month to present the Sports Personality Of The Year Awards.

kate middleton bbc

Kate at the Sports Personality Of The Year Awards

The Queen, wearing a pink dress coat, was driven the short distance from Sandringham house in a Bentley, escorted by the Countess of Wessex.

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The Queen getting into her Bentley

She had recovered from a cold to attend the Christmas Day service.

The Duke of Edinburgh, 91, who was forced to miss the service last year because of a heart problem, made his way to church on foot.


Kate is suffering from acute morning sickness and has limited her public engagements

Prince Harry is absent from the celebrations, as he is serving as an Apache helicopter pilot with the Army Air Corps in Afghanistan.

During the 40-minute service, the royals sang hymns including O Little Town Of Bethlehem.

Afterwards, the smiling Queen collected flowers from waiting children before being driven back to Sandringham house for lunch.