The Queen makes surprise public appearance during summer holiday

Her Majesty is on her annual break in Scotland

The Queen has made very few public appearances this summer as she enjoys her holiday in Scotland, but the 92-year-old monarch surprised royal watchers as she stepped out for church on Sunday. Her Majesty, who was accompanied by a friend, was pictured attending a service at Crathie church in Aberdeenshire – a few minutes' drive away from her official residence, Balmoral Castle.

Despite the damp weather, the royal opted for a summery look, wearing a bright blue coat, a matching hat, a brooch and a triple strand of pearls. The Queen was chauffeur-driven to church and assisted with an umbrella as she left the service in the rain.

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Her Majesty has spent the past couple of weeks at Craigowan Lodge on the Balmoral estate while the main castle is open to tourists. She will move into the 'big house' this week when it closes to members of the public for the summer. The Queen, who is enjoying her break with husband Prince Philip, typically stays in Scotland until September. Members of the royal family are expected to fly in throughout August and September to visit the monarch.

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The Queen was spotted attending church in Scotland

Speaking about her grandmother's love of Balmoral, Princess Eugenie has previously said: "It's the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands. Walks, picnics, dogs – a lot of dogs, there's always dogs – and people coming in and out all the time. It's a lovely base for Granny and Grandpa, for us to come and see them up there; where you just have room to breathe and run."

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The monarch was driven to the nearby church

While the royals will retreat from the spotlight and spend their summer in private, the Queen usually marks the official start of her holidays in the first week of August, when she inspects a battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The battalion provide security for the royals during their stay.