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Queen, 90, Misses New Year Church Service Due to Heavy Cold

Britain's queen, who last year celebrated her 90th birthday, skipped church Sunday because she’s still suffering from a heavy cold, officials said.
Image: The queen attends a public engagement in November.
The queen attends a public engagement in November.JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP - Getty Images

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II missed her annual New Year's Day church service Sunday, as she continued to recover from a heavy cold that delayed her holiday travel, royal officials said.

A statement released by Buckingham Palace Sunday said the 90-year-old British monarch would not attend the service near her country retreat at Sandringham, Norfolk.

"The queen does not yet feel ready to attend church as she is still recuperating from a heavy cold," the statement said.

She and her husband, Prince Philip, 95, fell ill days before Christmas, forcing her to delay her trip to the estate and to miss a Christmas Day ceremony at St Mary Magdalene church.

Prince Philip leaving Sandringham Church after New Year's Day service. The Queen did not attend the service because of a "lingering heavy cold".Geoff Robinson / Shutterstock

Philip, however, was able to attend 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 appearance.

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 workload.