Queen Elizabeth II hosted her annual family early Christmas luncheon at Buckingham Palace. This is an annual event that has largely replaced the family gathering at Windsor. This year more than 60 members of the family were present for the lunch.
This is a private family event. The media are not invited inside the palace for a formal group photo. It is a time for the Queen and her family to spend a few hours together. It is also a time to introduce new spouses, fiancees and babies to other members of the family.
Royal watchers and photographers were out in force to watch the arrivals and departures.
The guests included the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall; Prince William and his fiancee, Miss Middleton; Prince Harry; the Duke of York and his two daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie; the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their two children, Lady Louise Windsor and Lord Severn; the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Timothy Lawrence; Peter and a very pregnant Autumn Phillips; Zara Phillips; Viscount and Viscountess Linley and their two children, Charles and Margarita; Lady Sarah Chatto and her husband, Daniel and their two sons, Arthur and Samuel; the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Earl and Countess of Ulster, with their young children, Lord Culloden and Lady Cosima Windsor; Lady Davina and Gary Lewis and their infant daughter, Senna; Lady Rose and George Gilman and their infant daughter, Lyla; the Duke and Duchess of Kent; the Earl and Countess of St Andrews and two of their three children, Lord Downpatrick and Lady Amelia Windsor; Lady Helen and Tim Taylor and their four children, Columbus, Cassius, Eloise and Estella; Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor and their two young sons, Albert and Leopold; Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and their family; Lord and Lady Frederick Windsor and Lady Gabriella Windsor, and Princess Alexandra with her son James and his wife Julia and their two children, Flora and Alexander Ogilvy.
Princess Margarita of Baden, the Duke of Edinburgh's niece, also attended. The Princess, who is the former wife of Prince Tomislav of Yugoslavia, remains close the Duke of Edinburgh. Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor, the elder elder daughter of the Earl and Countess of St. Andrews, appears to have been absent -- and most likely not on the guest list, Princess Alexandra's daughter, Marina Mowatt and her two children, Zenouska and Christian.
Apart from the Trooping the Colour, this is the only time when the Queen can truly socialize with her extended family. It was also the first time that Catherine Middleton met most of the rest of the royal family. She was not the only newbee, however. This was also the first Christmas luncheon for Lady Frederick Windsor. Most of the guests at the luncheon will probably receive invitations to Prince William's wedding.