The Queen was forced to skip out on her annual Christmas tradition

By Maria Mercedes Lara and Simon Perry
Updated December 25, 2016 08:58 AM
Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

Queen Elizabeth II missed out on her annual trip to church for Christmas this year as she is still battling a heavy cold.

“Her Majesty The Queen will not attend Church at Sandringham this morning,” a Palace spokesperson said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “The Queen continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery. Her Majesty will participate in the Royal Family Christmas celebrations during the day.”

Earlier in the day, Prince Philip, who is also still under the weather; Prince Harry; Prince Charles; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Sophie, Countess of Wessex; Prince Edward and Princess Eugenie attended a Christmas church service at St. Mary Magdalene church on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk. Typically, the entire royal family walks together to a church service in the late morning but the royals chose to go to an earlier service on Sunday.

Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

The Queen and Philip have been ill for for several days and were forced to cancel their annual train ride to Sandringham on Wednesday due to their illness. However, the royal couple flew to the queen’s winter estate via helicopter on Thursday.

Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

Noticeably absent from the group was Zara Tindall, the Queen’s granddaughter and daughter of Princess Anne. On Saturday, Tindall revealed that she had suffered a miscarriage. She and husband Mike Tindall were expecting their second child.

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Princess Kate, Prince William and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte were also not at the church service. The family had confirmed earlier in the month that they would be spending Christmas with Kate’s parents in Bucklebury, which is about 170 miles southwest of Norfolk. The family was spotted walking to St. Mark’s church in Englefield with the Middletons.

Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

As is their annual tradition, the royal family gathered on Christmas Eve to exchange presents. (The inexpensive gifts are laid out on long trestle tables in the Red Drawing Room at Sandringham.) This is followed later by a sumptuous formal dinner.

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After church on Sunday, the family have lunch around the Sandringham dining table and then there’s the chance to catch the Queen’s annual TV address to the country.

On Monday, the men of the royal family are expected to take part in a Boxing Day pheasant shoot in the Norfolk countryside.