Queen overcomes cold to attend Christmas Day church service at Sandringham

 

The Queen joined the rest of the royals for the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham today after recovering from a cold.

She missed Sunday's service at her Norfolk home as she was "getting over the tail end of a cold", Buckingham Palace said.

But today she appeared cheerful as she arrived for the 11am service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate.

Wearing a turquoise coat dress and matching hat, she was wished a merry Christmas by about 1,000 wellwishers.

Following tradition, the Queen made the short journey from Sandringham House in a Bentley with princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

The Duke of Edinburgh, 91, who missed last year's service with a heart problem, walked the few hundred yards from the house to the church accompanied by the Duke of York and the Earl and the Countess of Wessex.

The Queen traditionally spends the festive period with her family gathered around her at her Norfolk estate.

But this year there will be some empty spaces around the table on Christmas Day.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are spending Christmas at the Middleton family home.

Prince Harry is serving as an Apache pilot in Afghanistan.

As the family left the church, the Queen - wearing a dress by Peter Enrione and matching hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan - collected flowers and gifts, including a teddy bear, from a line of about 50 children.

Tess Gilder, from the Park House nursing home in Sandringham, said the Prince of Wales had paused to speak to residents.

She said: "Last year Prince Harry had his picture taken with our teddy and we brought the bear again today. He said he would tell Harry.

"Sophie and Edward remarked on how cold it was and took an interest in what we'll be doing later.

"We told him we'd be having mulled wine and he said that sounded nice."

Phoenix Stanford, eight, and sister Evangeline, five, from RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, wore Santa hats as they met the Queen.

Phoenix said: "The Queen said they were lovely flowers. She didn't mention our hats."

Their mother, Senny Stanford, said: "Charles and Camilla spoke to us and said it was very cold. Charles gave us a few tips on how to keep warm."

Freedom Scott Tansley, 10, handed the Queen a teddy bear dressed as a Scout.

Mother Peg Tansley, 43, a charity worker from Norfolk, said: "He's a massive fan of the Queen because he's a Scout and she is the patron. He has known her since he was in the Beavers.

"Somebody asked if the bear was for Kate. He said 'no, it's for the Queen' because he loves her so much."

The Earl and Countess of Wessex were presented with a pink rose and he remarked on the fact that the thorns had been removed, saying "That's very thoughtful".

As the Queen was driven away, the crowd gave her three cheers.

PA

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