The Queen will not attend church at Sandringham on Christmas Day as she is recovering from a heavy cold, Buckingham Palace said. It is the first time since 1988 that the monarch will miss service on Christmas Day.

"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," said a statement from the palace.

The Queen traditionally spends the day at Sandringham with family. According to reports, crowds have been gathering at the St Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham on Sunday, (25 December) to watch the royal family arrive for morning service. At 9am, Prince Philip arrived with Prince Charles at the church for a private mass.

The Queen's Christmas message, recorded before she fell ill, will be broadcast at 3pm on Christmas Day.

On Wednesday, the royal couple were expected to travel from London to King's Lynn by train and then move on to Sandringham, but their departure was delayed. In a statement, the Palacesaid: "The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have heavy colds, and so have decided not to travel to Sandringham today." They flew straight to the house in Sandringham by helicopter.

It was announced on Tuesday that the Queen would be stepping down as a patron of 25 national organisations at the end of her 90th birthday year. Her patronages will be passed on to other members of the royal family.

Queen Elizabeth II
'The Queen continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery,' a statement from the palace said Chris Jackson/Getty Images