Single for One! Royal festivities begin as Queen takes train on way to Sandringham
Clutching her handbag and wrapped up against the chilly weather in headscarf and dark green coat it could have been any elderly lady carefully stepping off the carriage at King”s Lynn station this afternoon.
But this was no ordinary passenger. Without a royal fanfare or hordes of crowds to greet her, the Queen emerged from the train on her way to spend Christmas at Sandringham, much to the surprise of her travelling companions.
First class: The Queen emerges from the train at King”s Lynn station on her way to Sandringham for Christmas
Travelling first class on the 10.45am First Capital Connect service from London King”s Cross, the Queen arrived on platform one at King”s Lynn station in Norfolk at 12.21pm.
Emerging from the train, she wore a slightly dour expression as protection officers carried her luggage.
Perhaps the 90-minute journey had been too long for the 85 year old or maybe she”d just heard about the six per cent rail fare increases in the new year.
Mind the gap: The Queen travelled from King”s Cross via Ely along with another 50 or so passengers, who were surprised to find she was on the train
Whatever the reason, a First Capital Connect service is a far cry from the luxury the Queen is used to on the royal train.
That comes complete with sleeping car, bathroom and a thickly-carpeted saloon, has as many as nine private carriages and is said to be one of the only places the Queen can really relax.
However, due to the huge running costs the train is now only used on very special occasions so when it comes to everyday rail travel the Queen has to rough it with the rest of us.
On arrival at King”s Lynn the monarch did manage a glowing smile as she was whisked away in a Range Rover for the 30-minute drive to Sandringham.
Low-key: The Queen today surrounded by royal protection officers on the King”s Lynn platform and right, with Prince Philip in 2002 as they prepare to board the royal train
Lap of luxury: The Queen”s bedroom on the royal train complete with bedside radio and lace-trimmed pillows
Bernard Hudson, from King”s Lynn, said: “I”ve just come to catch the train with the grandchildren and had no idea what was going on.
“I think it”s great that she comes on the train like everybody else – it shows she”s in touch with reality.”
Each year the Royal Family spends the festive season on the Sandringham estate.
This year the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expected to join them for their first Christmas together.
The Queen travelled via Ely on the train with about 50 other passengers who were unaware of her presence.
Before she arrived, police officers with sniffer dogs combed the three-platform station.
Nearly there: A cheery wave as the Queen is whisked off to Sandringham in a royal Range Rover