Queen Elizabeth II will miss Christmas morning church service due to heavy cold

Buckingham Palace said Sunday that Queen Elizabeth II will miss the traditional Christmas morning church service as she continues to recover from a heavy cold.

The church service near her Sandringham estate in rural Norfolk, 110 miles (177 kilometers) north of London, is an important part of the royal Christmas celebration. Local residents often gather outside the church to see the monarch.

The palace said earlier in the week that both Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip were suffering from "heavy colds." They delayed their departure from London to Sandringham for that reason but traveled one day later than expected, using a helicopter instead of a train.

The palace did not release any other details. The queen is 90 and Philip, who has heart disease and other health problems, is 95.

The queen plans to use her pre-recorded Christmas Day message to praise British Olympic and Paralympic athletes and others who inspired her.

The message will be televised throughout Britain and much of the Commonwealth on Sunday afternoon.

Remarks released by Buckingham Palace indicate she will say she often draws strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Elizabeth and Philip will be joined in Sandringham by other senior royals.