Following a Christmas lunch with their Household staff on Tuesday, Kate Middleton and husband Prince William attended another festive celebration the following day, joining senior members of the royal family for lunch.
The couple arrived in separate cars and according to sources, they both attracted cheers from small crowds gathered outside the palace. The Duchess, who is less than 12 weeks pregnant, wore a lovely pink dress to the event.
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This is the third outing for Kate since leaving the King Edward VII hospital on December 6, where she was being treated for acute morning sickness. She attended the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Awards on Sunday evening and their staff's Christmas lunch earlier in the week.
The couple took their workers out for a meal at Notting Hill eatery Bumpkin restaurant. Typically, the royal couple decided to keep things low-key at the restaurant, one of a chain in London, and they treated their staff to the £30-a-head set menu for the lunch, which of course included turkey and all the accompanying trimmings, starter and of a choice of sumptuous puddings.
According to restaurant staff Kate sipped "soft drinks" although there was plenty of mulled wine flowing for the party attendees. And in all the party lasted, according to restaurant staff, some four hours.
At the party on Wednesday, around 40 members of the family joined the Queen for an annual luncheon, including the Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall.
Prince Andrew and his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie also attended and also arrived separately. Princess Eugenie was probably on her way back from the children's ward at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, where she stopped by for a festive visit.
Eugenie – who underwent spine surgery at the facility as a youngster and is now patron – participated in various Christmas-related activities with her little charges. She cut a caring figure as she spoke with patients who were unable to leave their bedside and will be spending Christmas on the ward.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex, and their children along with the Duke of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent also visited the palace for the event.
This latest outing suggests that Kate will be well enough to join the royals in their festivities at Sandringham on Christmas Day, including the church service, contrary to doubts about her health. It will be the second time she will join the royals there at the Queen’s Norfolk Estate, her first being last year as a married woman.
It has not been confirmed, however, if Prince William will be free to attend the Christmas Day celebrations and Sandringham church service, as he may be on duty in Anglesey, the air base where he is a search and rescue helicopter pilot for the RAF. It would be unusual for him to be required to do so, as a married man with his wife expecting a baby. However, the Prince did volunteer to cover for his colleagues on the base in 2010, so missing his family Christmas in 2010 – before he revealed his engagement to the then Kate Middleton.
But the royal couple will be afforded some privacy this Christmas at least. According to reports, the Queen has given Prince William the gift of a cottage on the 20,000 acre Sandringham Estate for his 30th birthday back in June, and preparing the house to be livable by the end of the year. William was reportedly delighted by the gift.
According to the Mail on Sunday: "He's a country boy and loves Norfolk, just like his father and his grandparents. It's a lovely, peaceful place and William adores it." And this year it should certainly provide a much-needed place to relax for Kate, who, while able to enjoy some of the festivities has nevertheless been given instructions to take it easy by medics.
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