Queen attends church on anniversary of Accession Day

The Queen attended church at West Newton this morning on the 59th anniversary of the death of her father at nearby Sandringham House.

King George VI died in his sleep after a day's pheasant shooting and the then Princess Elizabeth, who was in Kenya on a tour at the time, became Queen.

The Royal family stays at Sandringham over Christmas and the New Year and traditionally the Queen does not leave until after the anniversary of Accession Day. The salute of Royal guns normally fired to mark the date will be given in London tomorrow when the Queen returns to Buckingham Palace.

Wearing a matching purple coat and hat, the Queen was joined by Prince Philip for the service at St Peter and St Paul Church taken by the Rev Jonathan Riviere, parish vicar.

Hundreds of well-wishers gathered at the church, many of them carrying flowers to present after the service. The Royal party was also treated to a performance of Prodigal Son, a play staged by pupils from the estate's Sandringham and West Newton Primary School in the church hall.

The children were presented with books, including a Bible, by the Queen before the Royal party made the short journey back to Sandringham.

Ardent royal-watcher Mary Relph enjoyed a rendition of Happy Birthday from the crowd when Special Constable Liam Nicol presented her with a birthday cake.

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Mrs Relph, of Shouldham, who will be 75 tomorrow, is a familiar face at royal events. She was given the decorated sponge cake by Mr Nicol who was previously the head chef at Hunstanton's Golden Lion hotel.

The fruit cake he originally made fell off a shelf on Friday and broke, so he hastily replaced it.

'It was the quickest time I have ever made and decorated a cake,' he said.

Among those who presented flowers to the Queen were Maddy Wilson, 15, and Erica Larson, 16, who are both pupils at the American school on RAF Lakenheath.

'I haven't seen the Queen before and I'm very excited,' said Erica.

A group of friends have been making the trip from the Leeds area for 19 years and were delighted to be back at West Newton.

'We meet-up and make a weekend of it. I've been coming since I was two and it's brilliant,' said Anna Mitchell, 21. of Pontefract.