Queen begins her 90th year with first engagement at Sandringham church

Annie-Mae Close, nine, and Hugo Barnes, five, gave flowers to Lady Louise, the daughter of the Count

Annie-Mae Close, nine, and Hugo Barnes, five, gave flowers to Lady Louise, the daughter of the Countess of Wessex at Sandringham today: Rachel Barnes is at back.Picture David Bale - Credit: Archant

The Queen today carried out the first engagement of her 90th year at St Mary Magdalene church in Sandringham.

Among the hundreds of people waiting in the cold and rain to see the Queen were David and Sue Lawrence-Brooks, from Groby in Leicestershire, who journeyed from their holiday home in Wells.

It was the first time they had been to Sandringham, and Mr Lawrence-Brooks, who is in his mid 80s, said: 'I saw the Queen nearly 60 years ago at a dairy show at Earls Court. I had a stand there. I was 26 then.

'And I saw her again, at a distance, when I went to Buckingham Palace in 1976.

'We are both keen Royalists. To be entering her 90th year now, and to have been head of state more than 60 years, is amazing. You never hear any criticism of her - she is super.'

The Queen arrived in her Bentley just before 11am and waved to the crowd from the car and, again, as she walked to the church. A cheer of 'hurrah' went up from the crowd. She was wearing a purple matching suit.

The Duke of Edinburgh led another group on a walk from Sandringham House to the church.

Most Read

This group included the Earl of Wessex, his wife, the Countess of Wessex and their eldest daughter Lady Louise.

One of the well-wishers gathered, Hayley Grant, from Louth, Lincolnshire, had not visited Sandringham for 30 years, when she was 10.

'We got up at 4.30am, left at 5am, and got here at 7am, as we did not know what to expect,' she said.

After the service, the Queen emerged carrying an umbrella, which was given to one of the group walking back to the house.

The duke, who was in good form, was wished a 'happy new year' by onlookers.

And flowers were presented to the Countess of Wessex and her daughter by Annie-Mae Close, nine, and Hugo Barnes, five, who had travelled from Stamford, in Lincs, with their family.

The children said it was 'lovely' to give the flowers to the members of the Royal Family, and Lady Louise thanked them.

The service was conducted by the Rector of Sandringham, Canon Jonathan Riviere and was broadcast to the crowd outside, which included Royal watcher Mary Relph.

The rector led prayers for people in war-torn Syria, those affected by the floods in northern England, and for children starting school today. The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Richard Frith read the sermon, and a collection was made for The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House.