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Concern as the Queen cancels her Christmas travel plans

Gemma Strong

Buckingham Palace has released a statement following a last-minute decision to cancel the Queen's Christmas travel plans. The 90-year-old monarch had been due to arrive at London's King Cross train station on Wednesday morning to make her annual journey to King's Lynn in Norfolk, signalling the start of her Christmas break at Sandringham. But about 30 minutes before the Queen and husband Prince Philip, 95, were expected to board the train, it was confirmed that their travel arrangements had changed because of ill health.

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The Queen and Prince Philip have cancelled their Christmas travel plans because of "heavy colds"

A palace spokesperson confirmed to HELLO! Online: "The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have heavy colds, and so have decided not to travel to Sandringham today."

The Queen has taken the same 10.44 am train from London to Norfolk for several years now. She always travels on the day after her pre-Christmas party in a first class carriage of the train, paying a return class fare, and the unexpected cancellation sparked both concern and speculation.

It was initially surmised that heightened security fears might have been behind the decision, in the wake of this week's terrorist attack at a Berlin Christmas market, with some royal watchers suggesting that the couple might instead travel to Sandringham by helicopter.

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The monarch has travelled to Norfolk on the same 10.44 am service for a number of years now

The change in travel plans comes just one day after it was announced that the Queen is stepping down as the patron of 25 national organisations to lighten her workload.

It has already been confirmed that the Duchess of Cambridge will take over the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) Wimbledon, while Prince Harry will be the new patron of the RFU, England rugby's governing body. Prince Charles will look after the Holocaust Day Memorial Trust, while Prince William is expected to take over the Welsh Rugby Union.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: "Her Majesty is currently Patron of more than 600 organisations and has enjoyed a close and active association with a great number of them throughout her reign. Her Majesty will continue to serve as Patron to hundreds of charities and institutions but will now share this work with her family. Many of the organisations listed below already have other Members of the Royal Family as Vice-Patrons or Presidents which will ensure a smooth transition."