Picture Gallery: Royal family at church but the Queen misses morning service at Norfolk’s Sandringham estate for the first time.
13:24 23 December 2012
© Archant Norfolk 2012
Disappointment for crowd as Buckingham Palace confirm the Queen has a cold, but Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex, Lady Louise, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie did attend the service.
The Queen broke with tradition and failed to arrive at Sandringham Church this morning.
A disappointed crowd was told just ten minutes before the 11am start that the Queen would not be making the journey from Sandringham House for the service, although no reason was given at the time.
She has not missed a Sunday morning in church during her stay on the Norfolk estate over the festive season.
The monarch usually visits St Mary Magdalene Church every Sunday while staying at her Norfolk home.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “The Queen was getting over the tail-end of a cold. We are expecting business as usual next week.”
Prince Philip was joined by Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex and their daughter Lady Louise while Prince Andrew with his daughters Beatrice and Eugenie also walked to the church with the family.
But there was no sign of the Queen and the royal party made no mention of her absence as they arrived and left the church.
Royal watcher Mary Relph, 78, of Shouldham Thorpe, said that she had waited outside the church to spot the Queen every time the monarch has attended a service since 1988.
“I don’t remember her ever missing it,” she said.
“I remember her going around the back once. I am disappointed but I hope she is OK.”
Michelle Dickinson, 44, from Norwich, added: “I am very disappointed but hope she is all right, I wonder whether she is poorly?
“This is our first time here but we’ll come again another time so we can see her.”
Kayleigh Allen, nine, who was standing in the crowd outside the church, brought a special soft toy labelled My First Toy for the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge.
Princess Eugenie collected the toy and said she would take the gift and pass it on.
The Duchess and Prince William will not be at Sandringham for Christmas day as they will be spending the time with the Middleton family in Berkshire.