The Herald

Illness keeps Queen from Christmas service for first time

- HELEN MCARDLE

A HEAVY cold was blamed after the Queen missed the annual Christmas Day church service at Sandringha­m for the first time.

Prince Philip, who had also been ill with a cold which saw the royal couple delay their arrival at the Norfolk estate last week, was pictured making his way to St Mary Magdalene Church without the monarch yesterday.

He was joined by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry. However, wellwisher­s hoping to catch a glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children were left disappoint­ed as they spent the day with Kate’s family in Berkshire instead.

The Queen has enjoyed her annual Christmas break at Sandringha­m since 1988 and has never missed the traditiona­l family outing to church.

A spokesman said the monarch was still recovering “from a heavy cold” and was staying indoors “to assist with her recovery”, but was well enough to participat­e in the family’s Christmas celebratio­ns later.

It came as the monarch, in her pre-recorded Christmas message, said she drew strength from “ordinary people doing extraordin­ary things”.

Despite a tumultuous political year, the address made no mention of Brexit.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in his Christmas address, said the world at the end of 2016 was “less predictabl­e and certain” and “feels more awash with fear and division”.

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who spent Christmas Day in Kate’s hometown of Bucklebury, were pictured heading out on Christmas morning to a church in Englefield where the Duchess’ sister Pippa is expected to wed her banker fiancé in May.

The Queen’s granddaugh­ter Zara Tindall and her husband Mike were also missing from the Sandringha­m service after they announced in a statement on Christmas Eve that they had lost their unborn second baby.

 ??  ?? PRE-RECORDED: Queen’s speech.
PRE-RECORDED: Queen’s speech.

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