Queen catches train to King’s Lynn to begin her Christmas break at Sandringham, Norfolk

The Queen has arrived in Norfolk by train, to spend Christmas at Sandringham. Picture: Ian Burt

The Queen has arrived in Norfolk by train, to spend Christmas at Sandringham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The 89-year-old monarch, accompanied by Prince Philip, joined passengers on board the 10.55 from London King's Cross, as she set off to prepare Sandringham for the Royal Family's traditional Christmas gathering.

The Queen was greeted by station master Graeme Pratt, after her train arrived in Lynn four minutes late.

'She said she was pleased to be back in Norfolk for Christmas and she enjoyed the train journey,' he said.

Most passengers did not realise the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were on the train until it pulled into the platform.

But Canadian student Ben Cocoran, 24, who was on his way to spend Christmas in Docking, said: 'I was 80pc sure. Last time I came on the train at Christmas she was on the one after me.'

The Queen is believed to have bought a £54.90 first class single ticket for the 1hr 40min journey.

She was driven the final 15 or so miles of the journey - part of it along Queen Elizabeth Way - in a Range Rover.

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Each year, the Queen travels to Sandringham ahead of the rest of her family to supervise preparations for Christmas at the house, which include choosing and decorating a Christmas tree from her sawmills.

Almost 30 members of the Royal Family are expected to spend Christmas in Norfolk.

They include Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Princess Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, Zara Phillips, her husband Mike Tindall and their baby daughter Mia.

Younger members of the party are expected to include Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Lady Louise and Viscount Severn. Also expected are Peter Phillips, his wife Autumn and their four-year-old daughter Savannah.

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge will be spending their first Christmas with their young family, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, at Anmer Hall. They are expected to be joined by the Duchess's parents, Michael and Carole Middleton.

Most are expected to arrive on Christmas Eve, when celebrations traditionally begin with high tea in Sandringham's ballroom. In the evening, presents are opened before a candlelit supper.

Crowds of well wishers traditionally gather outside Sandringham Church to greet the Royal Family after the Christmas Day service.