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The BBC's Daniela Relph
"Hundreds had gathered outside to see the Royal family"
 real 56k

Monday, 25 December, 2000, 22:42 GMT
Princess criticised over flowers comment
Royals at Sandringham
Well-wishers offer floral tributes to the Royals
The Princess Royal has been accused of hurting the feelings of a pensioner who spent hours making a basket of flowers to hand over at the Christmas morning service.

The incident brought a sour note to the traditional celebration at St Mary Magdalen church on the Sandringham Estate.

The princess took a basket of flowers made by Mary Halfpenny, 75, who had waited for hours to see the Royals, and said: "What a ridiculous thing to do."

Ms Halfpenny said: "It was a really hurtful thing to say. I've made baskets of flowers for the Queen and she has always said how nice they are.

Princess Royal
The Princess Royal with flowers at the service
"It takes a long time, about three hours, to make a basket of flowers and it costs me about 10.00.

"I wanted Prince Harry to give the basket to the Queen Mother for me but Princess Anne just snatched it very roughly."

Lesley Hirst, 53, from Lancaster, added: "I think Princess Anne was exceedingly rude - she just snatched the basket from my friend."

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said later: "The Princess Royal meets thousands of people every year and it is clear that today there has been a misunderstanding of some kind."

The Princess Royal is also said to have told her nieces, Princess Beatrice, 12, and her 10-year-old sister Princess Eugenie, to "get a move on" and not to take flowers from well-wishers.

Queen Mother present

As well as readings and carols, the service featured a sermon by the Rector of Sandringham, Canon George Hall.

Members of the Royal Family mingled after the service with the hundreds of well-wishers who traditionally wait outside the church in Norfolk.

The Queen Mother was driven to the service, and walked into the church with the aid of a stick.

Queen Mother with the Queen and Prince Charles
Queen Mother: Attended service
It had been uncertain if she would be seen in public again on Monday following her appearance at a Christmas Eve service.

That was her first public appearance since falling and breaking her collarbone nearly two months ago.

The Queen has given the first royal Christmas address of the new Millennium.

Her speech to the nation was broadcast on BBC One, Radio 4 and ITN simultaneously.

Royals list

The text and an audio/visual version is accessible through the Buckingham Palace Web site - www.royalinsight.gov.uk - and an audio/visual version is being carried on BBC News Online.

As many as 20 Royals are at the Queen's Norfolk estate.

Those due to be at Sandringham this year are the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother, Prince of Wales with Prince William, 18, and Prince Harry, 16, Duke of York with Princess Beatrice, 12, and Princess Eugenie, 10, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Princess Royal with husband Commodore Timothy Laurence and daughter Zara Phillips, 19, and son Peter Phillips, 23, Princess Margaret with son Viscount Linley and his wife Serina, and Margaret's daughter Lady Sarah Chatto with her artist husband Daniel.

The Duchess of York is again expected to stay with her children at Wood Farm, on the Sandringham estate.

The Queen is also likely to call on Sarah for tea.

Teenager Zara Phillips was expected at Sandringham despite a car crash on Friday when she escaped serious injury.

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