Queen arrives to begin
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018
You know we're on track for Christmas when the Queen gets the train to Norfolk.
The 92-year-old monarch arrived on the 10.42am Great Northern service from London King's Cross to King's Lynn to begin her festive break in the county.
Many passengers on the scheduled Great Northern train, which arrived on time, did not realise who was sitting in the front first class compartment.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who usually travels up from London with his wife was not present. A well-placed Royal source said there were no health issues, but now that he had retired the 95-year-old does not always follow the same schedule as the Queen.
Accompanied by aides carrying her red boxes and protection officers, the Queen was greeted by station manager Graham Pratt, who escorted her to her waiting Range Rover.
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'She just talked about the weather, had it been wet, had it been raining,' he said. 'She just said she'd had a pleasant journey.'
The Queen, who was wearing a camel coat and Burberry-style head scarf, is believed to have bought a £58 first class single ticket for the 90-minute journey from the capital.
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She left the platform via a side entrance christened the Royal Gate, complete with crest, before being driven to Sandringham, where the Royal Family spends Christmas.
Earlier, police searched the station as a security precaution. Spaniel Robbie was working his last shift as a British Transport Police sniffer dog before retiring.
A larger than usual crowd of photographers were waiting for the Queen - possibly due to media speculation over arrangements at Sandringham this Christmas.
The monarch usually arrives a few days before her extended family to oversee preparations at her country retreat.
She will choose a tree from her own sawmill for the centrepiece and plan Christmas menus.
She will also visit her horses at the Royal Stud at Anmer, to check on progress of this year's foals.
Family members traditionally arrive on Christmas Eve in order of seniority.
Additional reporting: Madeline Bush.