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King Charles leaves Sandringham after solo church outing - begins new royal tradition

The monarch's journey marks a new tradition


King Charles waves to crowds in 2018© Getty
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
January 7, 2024
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King Charles has left his Sandringham estate for Balmoral following the church service at St Mary Magdalene Church. 

The monarch hopped on a plane and flew to the Scotland estate just hours after attending the Sunday morning service. 

WATCH: Why Balmoral is so special to the royal family

Charles was spotted waving to crowds after leaving the church on Sunday and spent some time chatting with families waiting for the royal behind the rope line. In one sweet moment, the King spoke with Simon and Georgina Ward and their sons William and Oliver, with the young boys sitting in a mini Land Rover with the number plate "W1LL1AM". 

The royals often journey to Balmoral to enjoy some downtime, with the estate acting as a home for the family during their annual summer holiday. 

King Charles after the morning service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk, on Sunday morning © Geoff Robinson
King Charles after the morning service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk, on Sunday morning

King Charles and Queen Camilla are expected to spend the next few weeks at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate. According to The Telegraph, the couple will also visit the Castle of Mey, which is the former home of his late grandmother, during their time in Scotland. 

Charles' journey to Balmoral marks a significant departure from royal tradition as his mother, the late Queen, would usually stay in Norfolk throughout January to commemorate her ascension to the throne and the passing of her father, George VI, who died in 1952 after suffering from lung cancer.

Charles at his Scottish residence, Birkhall, in Ballater© Getty
Charles at his Scottish residence, Birkhall, in Ballater

Birkhall is a favourite residence of Charles and holds fond memories, including his proposal to Camilla in 2005, as well as their honeymoon. 

 King Charles III, Queen Camilla, Princess Anne, Princess Royal and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murthy attend divine service at Crathie Church© WPA Pool
Balmoral is a favourite residence of the royals

During an interview with Country Life, Charles spoke about his love for the estate and his desire to maintain the garden's legacy. 

"It is such a special place, particularly because it was made by my grandmother. It is a childhood garden, and all I've done, really, is enhance it a bit," he said.

King Charles and Queen Camilla, dressed in tartan, spending their first wedding anniversary at Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate.© Jeff J Mitchell
King Charles and Queen Camilla spent their first wedding anniversary at the Balmoral estate

Charles also spent the majority of the Covid-19 lockdown at Birkhall, during which he opened the new NHS Nightingale hospital in London remotely via a video link from the Drawing Room.

The monarch inherited the 53,000-acre estate from his grandmother when she died in 2002, and often spends his summers there with Camilla. 

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