Wellwishers from home and abroad gathered to see the Queen as she attended the traditional Christmas Day church service at Sandringham.
Visitors from as far afield as the United States and the Philippines were among the crowds who had waited for hours to see the 88-year-old monarch and other members of the Royal Family.
But many in the crowds were left disappointed by the absence of Prince George, who remained at the Anmer Hall home of his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Duke was reported to have told wellwishers they were looking forward to seeing the “destruction” the 17-month-old had created in his nursery when they returned home.
And the Duchess, who is expecting the couple’s second child in the spring, reportedly said: “I’m sorry we didn’t bring George but you would have heard him in the church.”
Another absentee was the Duchess of Cornwall, who had been advised to rest by doctors after suffering a recent back injury.
A Clarence House spokesman said: “The Duchess put her back out earlier in December and has been in pain and is receiving physiotherapy. The doctors have advised against any travel.”
Around 2,000 people were estimated to have attended the service, with some arriving as early as 5am in order to secure the best possible vantage points.
However, the crowd also included a protestor from the New Fathers-4-Justice pressure group, who shouted towards the royal party.
The group has staged a number of protests in high-profile locations over recent days, including the Prime Minister’s country residence of Chequers in Buckinghamshire.