A look back in photos at the Queen’s winter stay in Norfolk

The Queen arrives at King's Lynn train station, leaving Norfolk after her stay at Sandringham. Pictu

The Queen arrives at King's Lynn train station, leaving Norfolk after her stay at Sandringham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

It might have been the end of her winter stay in Norfolk, but for the Queen this is just the start of a momentous year. And, as Sophie Biddle reports, the monarch's East Anglian sojourn has given her the perfect springboard to the busy months ahead

The Queen took her leave of the region yesterday in the same style to which we have become accustomed over these past few months - with a smile, good grace and in a low key, no fuss manner.

As she departed from King's Lynn station on the 10.54am service to London King's Cross, she may have reflected on the busy schedule that lies ahead.

The next 12 months will see the monarch mark her 90th year, a landmark that is bound to focus attention and bring with it a heavy workload of appearances, ceremonies and visits.

Younger royals may have started to take on some of the onerous duties that the Queen has previously borne, but her role is still a phenomenally challenging one for one about to enter her tenth decade.

It is clear, from what we have seen of her since her arrival in Norfolk on December 17, that it is still one she relishes. And it does not seem too fanciful to suggest that the time she spends here over Christmas and January is a vital period in her year to relax and recharge, before the challenges of her record-breaking reign return.

As in previous years, her public appearances during her Sandringham stay have been primarily those she has made while attending the various churches on the estate - emphasising her deep Christian faith which has been a cornerstone of her 64 year reign.

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These weekly events give her the chance to engage with her subjects, who flock to them, with an intimacy that is not often seen at other, grander public events.

Away from the churches, she paid her yearly visit to the Sandringham Women's Institute at West Newton - of which she is president - and listened to guest speaker, television presenter Sian Williams.

She also received a visit from 19-year-old Hannah Hodges, a former student at King's Lynn's King Edward VII Academy, to hand her a prize for her outstanding A-level results.

There have also been duties, but these have not taken her far from her Norfolk home. With the Duke of Edinburgh, she laid wreaths at Sandringham to mark a century since the end of the Gallipoli campaign, and last week she visited RAF Marham, where she goes every other year as honorary air commodore, to receive an update on the station's activities.

Days later, she visited new facilities at the Tapping House hospice at Hillington, and just this Sunday, she presented prizes to the 23 children from the Sandringham Group Sunday School.

This is the monarch as a member of her community - something it is difficult to see her as when she is in residence in London, at Buckingham Palace.

As she left King's Lynn yesterday, the Queen spoke briefly with station manager Graeme Pratt. 'I asked her if she enjoyed her stay in Norfolk, to which she said she did,' he said.

Norfolk has certainly enjoyed her stay, and is looking forward to her return.

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