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his will be the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first Christmas at their refurbished Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham Estate. I once thought they might be there in time for last year’s festivities, but building work always takes longer than expected. Despite their royal status William and Kate are no exception to this and the project took ages to finish; like any young couple perhaps they dithered in making decisions.

   Now the Queen has more bedroom space at the 'Big House', which is less than two miles from Anmer Hall, so the Cambridges can still join in with everything. Those who are not part of the Sandringham Christmas get to see the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the annual family lunch at Buckingham Palace in mid-December. Prince Philip, who has recently been wearing a small hearing aid, his only concession to his 93 years, will be the oldest family member while Mia Tindall, at 11 months, and Prince George, six months her senior, will be the youngest.

   Apparently one of little George’s favourite sounds is the whine of a vacuum cleaner and he shrieks with delight when he hears one in action. Hopefully no Buckingham Palace housemaids are at work around lunchtime that day or his parents might be embarrassed!

   The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are due to visit New York this month, which will be a treat for New Yorkers. Royal visitors are often accommodated in one of the Big Apple’s top hotels on the Upper East Side. The Carlyle was a favourite in the Nineties and still is, while in the days of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor it was the Waldorf Astoria.

   The Prince of Wales recently courted controversy when he recorded a video message for an international charity’s report on religious freedom. The report, to be presented in the House of Lords, concluded that Christians are the world’s most persecuted religious minority while Muslim countries are where religious freedom is most under threat.

   It highlights the murders of Christians by Isis and the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Nigeria, which took place in April this year. The Prince called on leaders of all faiths to add their voice to his instead of remaining silent for a united plea for religious tolerance. He concludes that his own Christian faith has enabled him to ‘speak to and to listen to people from other traditions including Islam’.

   Charles’s forays into religious and political arenas are often criticised, but in his role as Prince of Wales there is no reason why he cannot express such opinions. He is, after all, his father’s son!

   Next year is going to be an important one for the royal family, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s second child due in April and the milestone on 9 September when the Queen becomes the longest-reigning monarch in British history, overtaking her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.

   On behalf of everyone at Majesty I should like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous 2015.

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