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Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Sandringham is British royals' much-loved country retreat

It is unique among royal residences, a country retreat that is the private property of Queen Elizabeth II, a place at once so private and so beguiling that King George V pronounced it "the place I love better than anywhere in the world."

Today it is the treasured country home of the queen, who loves to spend time there with her extended family, particularly during the Christmas season, when she traditionally greets local people gathered outside a church where senior royals worship on Christmas morn.

Located some 110 miles (175 kilometers) north of London, Sandringham has been a private royal home since 1862, sheltering four generations of British monarchs.