London – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth missed a New Year’s Day church service on Sunday due to a heavy cold, Buckingham Palace said, a week after the 90-year-old monarch missed a Christmas Day service for the first time in decades.
“The Queen does not yet feel ready to attend church as she is still recuperating from a heavy cold,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, 95, were both suffering from heavy colds in the week leading up to Christmas and delayed their journey from London to Sandringham by a day, traveling there by helicopter on Dec. 22.
Philip attended both the Christmas and New Year services. On Sunday he arrived by car before walking into the grey stone parish church of St. Mary Magdalene, but the queen, who is the symbolic head of the Church of England, made no public appearance.
Late Thursday, a Twitter account with the handle @BBCNewsUKI sent out a fake message claiming Buckingham Palace had announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The news had an air of believability: Elizabeth is 90 years old and has been in poor health recently. This year, for the first time in three decades, she failed to attend a Christmas Day church service near her country home in Norfolk after suffering what was described as a “heavy cold.” The queen has not appeared in public since she fell ill.
While Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, died at the relatively young age of 56, her mother, known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, lived until 101 and was still appearing in public almost up until her death in 2002.
Elizabeth has maintained the popularity of the monarchy despite years of political, social and cultural change since she became queen on Feb. 6, 1952, aged just 25.