Queen Elizabeth Misses Christmas Service Because of ‘Heavy Cold’


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Queen Elizabeth, shown after Christmas Day services last year. She was too ill to attend this year.

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Peter Nicholls/Reuters

LONDON — For the first time in nearly 30 years, Queen Elizabeth II failed to attend a Christmas Day church service near her English country estate because of what Buckingham Palace described as a persistent cold.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said on Sunday that the 90-year-old queen “continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery.”

The queen, who had already been forced to change her travel plans for the holiday period because of the illness, planned to “participate in the royal family Christmas celebrations during the day,” according to the statement.

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, 95, were scheduled to travel on Wednesday by train to their Sandringham estate in Norfolk, near England’s eastern coast.

Their poor health pushed back the journey by a day, and she and her husband made the trip by helicopter.

Prince Philip, who had also been ill earlier in the week, was well enough to attend the service. He was accompanied by other members of the royal family, including Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.

The British monarch is particularly visible during the holidays, and Buckingham Palace said that the queen had attended church services at Sandringham on Christmas Day since 1988, when the royal family began celebrating the holiday there.

Her annual Christmas Day speech, which was prerecorded, was broadcast as usual.

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