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The Royal Christmas At Sandringham With All The Generations

How will this Christmas be different, when the young Royals have a newborn baby to keep happy as well, and what do the Royals' plans for Christmas have in common with many other young families?

This year, the historic church of St Mary Magdalene in Sandringham, Norfolk, will have a very special guest for the Christmas Day service. Likely to host Prince George's third public outing, the church may well ring to the cries of the world's most famous baby. The Queen's residence in Norfolk, Sandringham has hosted the Royal Family's Christmas since Victorian times, maintaining traditions such as the 18 foot tree and the walk to St Mary Magdalene on the morning of 25 December.

How will this Christmas be different, when the young Royals have a newborn baby to keep happy as well, and what do the Royals' plans for Christmas have in common with many other young families?

Regardless of whether this scenario rings true, one thing is certain: the Christmas season is a time for family, for sharing joy, especially the joy of young children. However it can also be the season for trying to fit too much in - and that's not just the mince pies and turkey. For many families with young children, it can be a marathon to get around the country ticking every family member off the list and giving them a glimpse of your new baby.

First, there is the vexed question of location. When you have a brand new baby in your lives, questions of sleepless nights, routines and the incredible amount of luggage a small person requires (now how can we fit that plastic bath into the car?!) are a logistical challenge that will flummox even the most unflappable parent.

Prince William may have been trained as a Search and Rescue pilot, but can he really manage the journey to Great-grandparents, set up camp with baby and precision plan naptime so as to coincide with Christmas Lunch? And for the rest of us, once the location is decided, how do you ensure that no-one in the family is left out?

If reports are true, the Queen has cleverly sidestepped this issue by inviting much of her extended family, with their young broods and - in a masterstroke that only the nation's favourite matriarch could pull off - she has also invited the in laws to Sandringham to enjoy the festive fun. That way, neither set of adoring grandparents will miss out on sharing Christmas with their new grandchild.

Next, there is the unpredictability of babies and their sleep patterns. Every parent who has dared to travel with a 5 month old knows that it can go either way: a lovely dozy baby who naps on the journey there and then settles quickly (Grandma! We're moving in if she always sleeps like this here!), or a tiny and loud version of Scrooge (Earplugs? What a great stocking filler!). Once again, the Queen has solved this tricky problem by ensuring that the size of Sandringham will allow everyone to get a restful night's sleep, and the parents to tend their newborn without anxiety.

Modern parents are busy folk, who don't always want the nanny working over Christmas, as they wish to benefit from some much needed family time. In the case of the Cambridges, William has given up his military role and is able to spend more time with his family. This is a young family with many commitments, and William and Kate will look forward to the perk of free childcare from two sets of grandparents and keen younger family members. That way, they won't need to have that awkward conversation with the nanny to see if she can work until 6.00pm on Christmas Eve.

Of course, that very same extended family are the ones to provide Kate and William with tips and advice on handling a cranky newborn, who may even be teething by Christmas. First cousins once removed, the Chattos and the Linleys (Princess Margaret's children) are usually guests at Sandringham. The Cambridges will enjoy the benefits of being with family members who have been through it all before. At the other end of the young parent experience, Zara Tindall may be eager to learn from Kate and even try her hand at baby care, with her new little cousin Prince George. Although she may prefer to stay childfree and pass on babysitting duties until her own little bundle arrives in the New Year.

Either way, the young Royals will be like any young family. They'll want to enjoy their usual Christmas traditions, and to renew ties with family. They'll be hoping that they come back refreshed and rested, having shared the festive season with all of their family - and that everyone has had a cuddle with their new little baby George.

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