PICTURE SPECIAL: Queen misses Christmas Day Sandringham church service

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The Queen has missed today’s Christmas Day church service at Sandringham because of illness.

Buckingham Palace said this morning that the 90-year-old monarch is still suffering from a heavy cold and was remaining indoors to aid her recovery.

It is thought to be the first time the Queen, who delayed her departure for Sandringham by a day earlier this week because of colds affecting her and the Duke of Edinburgh, has missed the service in nearly 30 years.

The couple flew by helicopter from Buckingham Palace to Sandringham on Thursday, after plans for them to travel by train to King’s Lynn the previous day were cancelled at short notice.

Prince Philip did attend the service, but was driven to the St Mary Magdalene church, instead of taking his customary walk from the house.

Instead, the walking party was led by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Prince Harry, the Duke of York and the Princess Royal were also among the party but the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were the other notable absentees, as they spent the day with the Middleton family at their home in Berkshire.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Christmas broadcast, screened a short time ago, was based on the theme of inspiration as she praised Britain’s Olympic and and Paralympic champions.

She also spoke of how moved she was by the dedication of the East Anglian Air Ambulance crews when she opened their new base in Cambridge.

The broadcast also referred to the need to “take a deep breath to find courage or strength” in what some have seen as a coded reference to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union last summer.

The Queen is missing church at Sandringham for the second successive week

The Queen is missing church at Sandringham for the second successive week