The Queen and Prince Philip at church in snow-covered West Newton

Cheers for Royal couple as Diamond Jubilee year begins for the Queen

The Queen and Prince Philip were cheered by a crowd of well-wishers who waited in the snow at West Newton church this morning.

The picturesque church on the Royal Estate was the centre of attention as the Diamond Jubilee year begins tomorrow - the anniversary of the death of King George VI at nearby Sandringham House.

The Royal couple attended the service which included the annual Sunday school play and prize-giving to young members. Pupils from the Royal estate schools of Sandringham and West Newton, Dersingham and Flitcham, were also among the congregation.

The service, at St Peter and St Paul parish church was led by the Rev Jonathan Riviere. The Royal couple also watched a play - specially written for the Jubilee year - in the village hall next door.


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Children from the Sunday school performed 'Once Upon a Time' which told the story of a princess and was based on the life story of the Queen. The children were presented with a variety of books, including a Bible, by the Queen before the Royal party made the short journey back to Sandringham.

Despite freezing weather and more than four inches of snow making roads in the area barely passable, around 100 people turned out to see the Royal party.

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A group of eight children waited to present flowers to the Queen and one young fan gave a packet of Werther's toffees to her for the Duke of Edinburgh.

'I think these are for you,' the Queen said to her husband.

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.

Mrs Relph, of Shouldham, who will be 78 today, is a familiar face at royal events. She was given the giant cup cake by Mr Nicol, a butcher, who was previously the head chef at Hunstanton's Golden Lion hotel.

Prince Philip had been due to make the journey from Sandringham to King's Lynn where he was the guest of honour at the 90th anniversary parade for the town's branch of the Royal British Legion, but the event was cancelled because of the weather.

The Duke of Edinburgh was going to take the salute at the Tuesday Market Place where legion members, cadets and current members of the armed forces were due to gather. But the area was still under four to five inches of snow yesterday lunchtime and the event was called-off.

The Duke of Edinburgh took the salute at the legion's 80th anniversary ten years ago.

The Queen has two engagements planned in West Norfolk for tomorrow - the anniversary of her father's death which she usually spends quietly at Sandringham.

The monarch will visit King's Lynn Town Hall, where she will meet staff from the building and West Norfolk Council, and view some historical artefacts in the Stone Hall.

She has also been invited to Dersingham Infant and Nursery School where she will tour the building meeting pupils and staff before watching a play about her 60 years as sovereign performed by the children.

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