International desk – British newspapers reported on Sunday that the Queen had missed the annual Christmas morning church service as she caught cold.
This is the first time the Queen missed the Christmas church services in almost 30 years, the Guardian newspaper reported.
Prince Harry arrives for the Christmas Day service at the church of St Mary Magdalene.
Hundreds of people had gathered outside the church for a glimpse of the monarch, including some who had arrived before dawn. She had attended the traditional service at the church of St Mary Magdalene, near the royal estate, every year since 1988.
Buckingham Palace confirmed on Sunday morning that the Queen will not be attending the service. A brief statement it said: “The Queen continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery.”
It added: “Her Majesty will participate in the royal family Christmas celebrations during the day.”
The Queen and Prince Philip were forced to fly to their Sandringham estate in Norfolk by helicopter on Thursday after their initial Christmas plans to travel by train were cancelled because of ill health.
Prince Philip was well enough to attend the service. He was accompanied by other senior royals, including Prince Charles and his wife Camilla and Prince Edward and his family.
Prince William is spending Christmas at his wife’ family home Bucklebury in Berkshire. The prince and Kate Middleton attended a service in nearby Englefield church with their children.
The Queen’s Christmas message will be broadcast as usual at 3pm on Christmas Day, as it was recorded before she fell ill.
The royal couple had been expected to travel from London to King’s Lynn by train on Wednesday and then on to Sandringham.
In a statement on Wednesday, Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have heavy colds, and so have decided not to travel to Sandringham today.”
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Queen would be stepping down as patron from 25 national organisations at the end of her 90th birthday year, with the patronages passing to other members of the royal family.
The monarch and the 95-year-old duke hosted their annual Christmas lunch for dozens of relatives at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, according to the newspaper.