The UK’s Queen Elizabeth II has missed the Christmas Day church service due to poor health, a first in nearly three decades. The royal family attended the traditional service at the church of St. Mary Magdalene, near the royal estate, on Sunday morning.
However, hundreds of people who had gathered outside the church to catch a glimpse of the monarch were disappointed when they found out that she was not partaking in the event for the first time since 1988. “The Queen continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery,” the Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Sunday, adding that Elizabeth II would “participate in the royal family Christmas celebrations during the day.” The news came after the illness forced the 90-year-old queen and 95-year-old Prince Philip to cancel a train trip to their Sandringham estate in Norfolk on Thursday and fly there on a helicopter instead.
The two were slated to leave London to King’s Lynn by train on Wednesday but that trip was also called off because of the cold. Philip was able to attend the Sunday service in the company of other members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and his wife Camilla and Prince Edward and his family. It was announced on Tuesday that the queen would no longer be the patron of 25 national organizations before her 91st birthday.
The patronages will be passed to the other members of the royal family. Elizabeth II is currently a patron of more than 600 charities, according to the Palace. She became the longest reigning monarch in the world after the October death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Meanwhile, a petition criticizing the royal family’s extravagant use of public funds for personal purposes has reached nearly 145,000 signatures. The petition was posted online after the government of Prime Minister Theresa May authorized the royal family’s use of £369 million in taxpayers’ money to repair the Buckingham Palace. The royals own 350,000 acres of land across the UK and their taxpayer-funded income was raised this year to £45.6 million– a 47-percent boost in five years.