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Royal Family Observes Christmas Eve

December 24, 2000

SANDRINGHAM, England (AP) _ As hundreds of well-wishers waited outside, Britain’s royal family gathered at its parish church on Sunday to celebrate Christmas Eve together.

The hour-long service at St. Mary Magdalene Church was televised live and was attended by Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen Mother Elizabeth and other members of the family, including the two kings-in-waiting, Prince Charles and his son Prince William.

About 300 well-wishers ignored the light rain to greet the royal family and give flowers to the queen and her hugely popular 100-year-old mother. It was the Queen Mother’s first public appearance since she broke her collarbone nearly two months ago.

``I think what she did made people’s day,″ said Catherine Barrell, 38, from Cambridge. ``To negotiate all those slippery steps and walk so far when you are 100 and suffered a broken collarbone not long ago is just incredible.″

The queen invited television cameras into the service this year as a special millennium celebration of Christmas, the British Broadcasting Corp. said.

In his sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey told the 90-member congregation that more attention should be paid to the religious significance of names amid the impersonal nature of modern technology.

``We can and must guard against mere numbers becoming more important than the people, relationships and communities whose reality they hide,″ Carey said.

After the service, Carey left with the royal family to attend a lunch at the queen’s Sandringham estate, her rural retreat in eastern England where the royal family traditionally celebrates Christmas.

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