Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, decided to go her own way this Christmas and break with royal tradition. She decided that William and baby George should enjoy their Christmas dinner with her parents at the Norfolk mansion.
Having attended church with the royals, the Duchess and Prince William both headed for dinner with Middleton's folks, even though that kind of thing hasn't been considered "Royal Protocol" in the past. Kate and William were expected to join the Queen and Prince Philip at Sandringham for Christmas dinner, as they did last year.
The other big surprise for the 3,000 strong crowd, which had gathered to steal a glimpse of the royals at church, was that there was no sign of Prince George, who they had hoped to see.
One spectator, Patricia Cushing, who was with her daughter, Anne-Marie Fewell and granddaughters Hannah and Emelie, said Prince Harry had joked about the singing during the church service.
Cushing said, "Prince Harry asked if we were able to hear the carols and we said we could and he said, 'I hope you didn't hear us singing, it was horrendous. They had to play a tape of the carol because the singing was so bad.'"
For her part, Kate Middleton, who is six months pregnant with her second child, looked tired, with dark circles around her eyes, when she arrived at the St. Mary Magdalene church on the Queen's Sandringham estate, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
When a well-wisher asked Prince William why baby George was not present, the Prince replied to Kim Dawson.
Dawson said the Prince told him that Prince George was really, really well, and said that they've left him at the nursery because it's a little bit cold, but they were looking forward to going back to see what destruction he'd caused. He wished us a happy Christmas and asked if we were warm enough and he said he was very grateful for all the flowers.
Kate Middleton also felt an apology was in order, as she told an onlooker, "I'm sorry we didn't bring George but you would have heard him in the church."
The fact that Kate Middleton and her husband made the decision to break with tradition is yet another indication of the direction the British Monarchy is taking for the future.
How soon that future will be depends on decisions to be made both by the Queen and her son, Prince Charles, regarding the timing of the succession to the throne.