Queen and Duke of Edinburgh ill with '˜heavy colds'

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have delayed their journey to Norfolk for Christmas after coming down with 'heavy colds', Buckingham Palace has said.

The Queen. Picture: Stuart C. Wilson/PA Wire

The Queen and Philip were expected to travel from London to King’s Lynn by train on Wednesday and then on to their nearby private Sandringham estate.

But a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have heavy colds, and so have decided not to travel to Sandringham today.”

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Yesterday it was announced that the Queen would be stepping down as patron from 25 national organisations at the end of her 90th birthday year, with the patronages passing to other members of the Royal Family.

The move is likely to be seen as a common-sense decision which acknowledges the Queen’s advancing years but Buckingham Palace stressed the monarch is still patron of around 600 organisations.

The Queen and Duke, 95, were surrounded by their family on Tuesday when they hosted their annual Christmas lunch for dozens of relatives at Buckingham Palace.

Despite their advancing years, the couple appear to remain in good health and have missed few official engagements in recent years due to illness.

The Queen was treated for the symptoms of gastroenteritis in 2013. She stayed overnight in a private hospital before being assessed by doctors and cancelling an official trip to Rome.

And in June last year Buckingham Palace took the unusual step of confirming the Queen’s visit to a private hospital for a routine medical check-up following speculation on social media about the state of her health.

Philip joked about his good health last month during a visit with the Queen to London’s Francis Crick Institute - a major biomedical research centre - where he asked a flu expert: “Why haven’t I had flu for the last 40 years?”

In May an undisclosed minor ailment forced the Duke to miss commemorations marking the anniversary of the First World War Battle of Jutland in Orkney.