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Royal family on song as Princess of Wales joined by George, Charlotte and Louis for carol service

Princess Charlotte, the Princess of Wales, Prince George, Prince Louis, the Prince of Wales and The Dean of Westminster Abbey
Princess Charlotte, the Princess of Wales, Prince George, Prince Louis, the Prince of Wales and The Dean of Westminster Abbey - Chris Jackson/PA

The Christmas trees were decorated with stuffed teddies. Excited children shuffled in their seats, craning for a glimpse of Father Christmas. And the hostess, the Princess of Wales, beamed proudly at a Westminster Abbey bursting with festive joy, her own sons and daughter by her side.

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis came bearing handwritten letters sending Christmas wishes to vulnerable children, posted in a red postbox covered in a sprinkle of decorative snow.

The wider Royal family gathered to show their support and enjoy the carols: the Duchess of Edinburgh walking with Princess Beatrice and the Princess’s stepson, Wolfie, with Princess Eugenie, Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips with his two young daughters taking their seats for the hour-long service.

If they were thinking of troubles from afar, there was no sign.

The Prince of Wales gave a simple reading about the birth of the baby Jesus, with no hint of hidden messages to the wider world.

The Prince of Wales gives a reading at the service
The Prince of Wales gave a simple reading about the birth of the baby Jesus - Andrew Parsons/Kensington Palace
Princess Beatrice arrives with her stepson, Wolfie, and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi
Princess Beatrice arrives with her stepson "Wolfie" and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi - Chris Jackson/PA

The service, which is becoming an annual fixture of the royal calendar, was this year dedicated to the Princess’s early years campaign, with the 1,500 guests chosen for their work supporting babies and young families.

They included young fundraising heroes, midwives, teachers, carers, health visitors, volunteers and families who have faced their own challenges and come to the attention of the Princess during the course of her work.

The influence of Diana, Princess of Wales – herself a champion of children – was felt, with Last Christmas, a song by her close friend George Michael, played on John Lennon’s piano, which had been loaned by his estate.

Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Prince George post letters ahead of the carol service
Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Prince George post letters ahead of the carol service - Chris Jackson/PA

The Princess arrived at Westminster Abbey early to greet her guests and thank performers including Jim Broadbent, Dame Sheila Hancock and Roman Kemp, George Michael’s godson.

Every child was invited to write a Christmas card to another child. One of the Princess’s children is believed to have written to Tony Hudgell, the nine-year-old boy who has raised millions of pounds for charity by walking on his prosthetic legs.

The Royal family was dressed in co-ordinating red and cream for the festive season.

The Prince and Princess of Wales with their children and other members of the Royal family at the service
The wider Royal family gathered to show their support and enjoy the carols - Andrew Parsons/Kensington Palace

The King and Queen were not present but had sent dozens of fir trees from the Windsor estate to decorate the abbey.

Some were decorated with stuffed toys, delighting the children who stood on their seats to gain a better view.

All were dressed in their finest, with neatly plaited hair and polished shoes, for what will no doubt be a highlight of the year.

Prince George of Wales, "Wolfie" Mapelli Mozzi, Princess Charlotte of Wales and Prince Louis of Wales attend The "Together At Christmas" Carol Service at Westminster Abbey
Prince George, "Wolfie" Mapelli Mozzi, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis hold candles at the service - Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson

The occasionally crying baby was met with smiles. Children of different needs were quietly catered for, with ear defenders for those who found it all a little much.

There was particular excitement when the Oscar-winning actor Broadbent read an extract from Letters from Father Christmas by The Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, with youngsters checking with their parents whether the real Santa was coming.

Prince Louis blows out a candle held by his sister, Princess Charlotte at Westminster Abbey
Prince Louis playfully blows out a candle held by his sister, Princess Charlotte - Chris Jackson/PA/Chris Jackson

Arriving guests were treated to carols and Christmas songs performed by the Action for Children Young Carers Aloud choir, made up of 12 young carers, including one aged just six.

There were songs from the Soul Sanctuary choir, who previously performed in front of the Prince and Princess of Wales at the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell disaster, while Joseph Coelho, the Children’s Laureate, read a specially-written poem about growing up.

The Princess of Wales arrives at the service
The Princess of Wales arrives at the service - Samir Hussein

The Princess spoke to four scouts from the 3rd Upton Scout Group in Slough that her family visited during the coronation celebration weekend, part of The Big Help Out event, aiding the renovation of their hut.

The Princess told them that “it was really inspiring – seriously good job” and high-fived each scout in turn.

The Princess of Wales high-fives scouts from the 3rd Upton Scout Group in Slough
The Princess high-fives scouts from the 3rd Upton Scout Group in Slough - Andrew Parsons/Kensington Palace

She also crouched down to chat to seven-year-old Oscar Burrow, from Lancaster, who climbed 12 mountains raising more than £40,000 for Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley, Lancs, at the age of six.

His mother, Kimberley Burrow, said afterwards: “She said she’d heard about what he’s done and he’s doing a fantastic job, and hopes what he’s doing will inspire other children to do amazing things.”

The Princess told Jacob Collier, who performed Last Christmas, that she and Charlotte had been watching him play piano on YouTube.

“I said to Charlotte it takes a lot of practice. We saw you on YouTube,” she told the musician, who confirmed afterwards that the future Queen had told him that Charlotte was learning to play piano.

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