A heavy cold is keeping Queen Elizabeth II from attending the traditional Christmas morning church service near her Sandringham estate in rural Norfolk, England. It is extremely rare for Elizabeth to miss the service, which is a cornerstone of the royal family's Christmas celebrations and brings the monarch into contact with local residents who gather outside for a glimpse of her. "The Queen continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery," Buckingham Palace said in a statement, per the AP. "Her Majesty will participate in the royal family Christmas celebrations during the day." Those festivities usually include a gala lunch. In past years, the royal family would often go for extended walks in the countryside. It's the first time the queen has missed Christmas services since 1988, reports the Guardian.
Elizabeth has been in generally good health and has maintained an active schedule in the last year despite traveling less often than in the past. Her husband, 95-year-old Prince Philip, has also cut back his public schedule and charitable works. He was also suffering from a heavy cold earlier in the week, but was well enough to attend Christmas services in Sandringham. Earlier this week, the royal couple delayed their departure from London because of their colds but traveled one day later than expected, using a helicopter instead of a train. The royal family received some sad news Saturday, when it was revealed that the queen's granddaughter, Zara Tindall, had suffered a miscarriage while expecting her second child with husband Mike Tindall. Prince William and his wife Kate, along with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, are celebrating Christmas with Kate's parents. (Read more Queen Elizabeth II stories.)