Queen misses WI meeting because she has a cold
PUBLISHED: 15:10 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:01 23 January 2020
The Queen missed her annual appearance at her local Women's Institute as she had a cold and is "not feeling up to it", a member of her security team has said.
The 93-year-old joined the Sandringham branch of the WI in 1943 when she was still Princess Elizabeth, and attends each year as part of her winter stay in Norfolk.
But around half-an-hour before her expected arrival at West Newton Village Hall today, a member of her security team told assembled reporters and photographers that she would not be coming this year.
This year's guest speaker, BBC News At Ten Presenter Huw Edwards, had already arrived at the venue. The meeting went ahead without the Queen.
Speaking ahead of Thursday's meeting, Edwards said it was "daunting and exciting in equal measure" to have been invited to talk at the event.
Before it emerged the Queen would not be attending, Edwards added: "I'm no stranger to public speaking but I think this is a slightly exceptional event so I'm being brave and been thinking carefully about what I might want to say.
"I think a bit like the Prime Minister allegedly before Brexit, I've got several options, I've got several versions.
"I'm not quite decided yet on what the ultimate message will be but I'd like to talk a little bit about the business I'm in and the way it's changed over the years and what the challenges are now in terms of journalism and broadcasting.
"Maybe that sounds a bit serious but I'll try to do something along those lines."
Today is believed to be the first occasion the Queen, who is the honourary president of the branch, has missed a meeting in more than 20 years.
She usually attends during her Christmas break at Sandringham, giving a talk on her activities over the previous year.
The Sandringham branch of the WI was founded in February 1919 by Queen Mary.
The Queen became a member in 1943, as the 18-year-old Princess Elizabeth.
Her mother was president of the Sandringham branch for 50 years until her death in 2002.
Other Royal WI supporters include the Countess of Wessex, who is a member of Bagshot WI, in Surrey.
The Duchess of Cornwall is a member of Tetbury WI, in Gloucestershire, while the Princess Royal is an associate member.