The world's longest-reigning monarch, who became unwell
before Christmas, stayed indoors at her Sandringham country
estate in Norfolk, eastern England, while other members of the
royal family attended the service.
"The Queen does not yet feel ready to attend church as she is
still recuperating from a heavy cold," Buckingham Palace said in
Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, 95, were both suffering
from heavy colds in the week leading up to Christmas and delayed
their journey from London to Sandringham by a day, traveling
there by helicopter on Dec. 22.
Philip attended both the Christmas and New Year services. On
Sunday he arrived by car before walking into the grey stone
parish church of St. Mary Magdalene, but the queen, who is the
symbolic head of the Church of England, made no public
A few dozen parishioners and a crowd of photographers had
gathered outside the church on Sunday morning in cold, rainy
weather as other members of the royal family arrived.
The queen's daughter, Anne, and her third son, Edward, were
among those who attended.
Elizabeth had previously attended the Christmas service at the
church every year since the royal family started celebrating
Christmas at Sandringham in 1988.
After more than six decades on the throne, the queen has cut
back on international tours but still regularly performs
official duties around Britain.
The palace announced on Dec. 20 she would step down as patron of
several charities and other organizations to reduce her
While Elizabeth's father, King George VI, died at the relatively
young age of 56, her mother, known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen
Mother, lived until 101 and was still appearing in public almost
up until her death in 2002.
Elizabeth has maintained the popularity of the monarchy despite
years of political, social and cultural change since she became
queen on Feb. 6, 1952, aged just 25.
(Writing and additional reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by
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