It is at this time of the year that The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh stay at Sandringham, but why does The Queen likes it so much?
The story of the royal connection begins in 1862. Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, was looking for a country home for his eldest son Albert Edward, Prince of Wales before his twentieth birthday. The idea was to find a healthy retreat for his young son, away from the distractions of the city.
Prince Albert Edward married Princess Alexandra of Denmark on 10 March 1863, and they travelled to Norfolk 18 days later - Sandringham’s first role was as a home for newly-weds.
The young couple made many extensions and improvements to the house and estate, including the construction of new roads.
As home to the heir to the throne and his wife, Sandringham was venue to many glittering occasions. Its use ranged from visits by Heads of State (1881, 1899 and 1902 by Kaiser Wilhelm) to informal retreats by the Royal Family. Three times a year there was a ball – for the gentry, for the farmer and for the servants.
Sandringham House in Norfolk has been the private home of four generations of Sovereigns since 1862. Like Balmoral Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh are required to oversee the management of Sandringham, which remains a commercial estate. The Queen also breeds and trains Labradors and Cocker Spaniels atSandringham. There is a special Sandringham strain of black Labrador introduced in 1911. Sandringham House, the museum and the grounds are open to visitors when Her Majesty is not in residence.
During Christmas the Royal Family gather for the annual holiday. The Royal Family currently spend time together, play games, then the family gather round the television to watch The Queen’s speech and take part in Prince Philip’s traditional Boxing Day shoot over the festive period.
Every year The Queen sends Christmas trees local schools and churches in the Sandringham area. On Christmas morning everyone attends St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate, The Queen was left apparently laughing early in 2013 when her State Bentley, converted to run on biofuel, wouldn’t start as she was at the traditional Sunday church service near Sandringham House.
King George VI loved Sandringham as much as his father had done, spending many happy months on the estate. He also died at Sandringham House, passing away in his sleep on the night of 6 February 1952. His coffin lay in the small church of St. Mary Magdalene in Sandringham.
Sandringham House was in the 1980s a setting of a scary story, Prince Charles reported unexplained blasts of cold air during one holiday. It is also noted that some of the clocks move randomly and books have tumbled off the shelves. Footsteps may be heard, odd sounds and lights turning on and off have all been reported at Sandringham.
His son, The Duke of Cambridge, will also live at the estate one day soon as Anmer Hall is prepared for him and his family. Anmer hall is a delightful property situated a few miles away from Her Majesty’s country retreat Sandringham House. It is expected the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will use Anmer as their county retreat.
Throughout her reign, The Queen’s attachment to Sandringham has remained as strong as that of her father, grandfather and great-grandfather – and surely many generations to follow will be just as fond of the country retreat as the Royal Family are now.