Smile ma'am: Queen and Prince Philip are snapped by construction workers at King's Cross as they set off for Christmas at Sandringham by train
Builders snapped away with their camera phones as couple stepped out carQueen boarded train to King's Lynn station in Norfolk for Christmas
Then a 30-minute journey took them to private estate SandringhamQueen spotted doing paperwork on the train and opening briefcaseDuke of Edinburgh had a book with him for the trip
Queen's message will be shown in 3D and HD for first time this year
15:56 GMT, 20 December 2012
The Queen and Prince Philip were greeted by excited workmen today as they arrived at King's Cross station to take a train to Sandringham for their annual Christmas stay.
Their well-wishers – a group of construction workers – snapped away with their camera phones as the couple stepped out of their car.
In keeping with tradition, the Royal couple then boarded a train to King's Lynn station in Norfolk on a 90-minute journey to the private estate where they will enjoy the festivities surrounded by family.
Queen Elizabeth, left, and the Duke of Edinburgh, right, arrive at King's Cross train station today to take a train to King's Lynn for their annual Christmas break at Sandringham
Say cheese! Builders currently working on the re-development of King's Cross station take out their camera phones to take a snap of the Queen on her journey
From the station it is a 30-minute journey to Sandringham – just enough time to dip into a novel.
And hence why, perhaps, The Duke of Edinburgh, 91, was carrying a
copy of the book 'The End Of Empire, Atilla The Hun and The Fall Of
Rome', by Christopher Kelly.
And the Queen was spotted doing her paperwork as she travelled by the public train.
The Duke Of Edinburgh departs carrying a copy of the book 'The End Of Empire , Atilla The Hun and The Fall Of Rome' by Christopher Kelly
She surprised other passengers by travelling first class on the 10.45am First Capital Connect service from the station.
joined more than 50 other unsuspecting people on the train.
The scheduled service, which had no buffet car or refreshments trolley, went via
Cambridge and arrived six minutes late at 12.26pm in King's Lynn,
The Queen was seen getting into the festive spirit as she sat in front of an open briefcase, reading a white card with the word 'Celebrating' on the front – possibly the menu for the Royal family's Christmas Day dinner.
When she arrived at King's Lynn she was then driven to the estate, where she will soon be joined by her close family for Christmas.
The Queen who was wearing a red and
white patterned coat adjusted her trademark headscarf to protect her
form the wind and rain as she walked along the platform. She was also holding a bunch of flowers.
The train 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 and has as many as nine private carriages.
But due to the huge running costs the train is now only used on very special occasions.
Leaving the train she was followed by four aides carrying bags and the Duke of Edinburgh with his Attila the Hun book in his hand.
couple then went through a side gate into a car park where a Range
Rover was waiting to drive them seven miles to the 20,000-acre
Buckingham Palace is thought to have booked all
dozen seats in the rear first class compartment of the train to ensure
that the pair could sit undisturbed with their staff.
One way first
class tickets on the train cost 50 each for the 100 mile
journey, although it would have been 33 if the Queen had used a
Security at the station was stepped up for the Queen's arrival.
Wrapped up warm and clutching her black handbag, Queen Elizabeth looks happy as she is set to depart London for the Christmas holiday
Protection Officers carry the couple's briefcases & blankets as the pair walk to the train for their holiday
One passenger said: 'It is
amazing to think that we shared a train with the Queen. I had no idea
that she and Philip were on board until the train stopped.'
A First Capital Connect spokesman said he was unable to comment on the Royal couple being on the train.
In previous years, the train company insisted that it never gave the Queen any special treatment.
Queen and Prince Philip will be joined by other members of the Royal
family later in the week and will make a public appearance when they
attend church on Christmas Day.
But Sandringham is expected to be
quieter this year without the presence of Prince Harry who is on active
service in Afghanistan.
It was originally thought that Kate
and William would not be attending Sandringham this Christmas and will
instead spend it at the Middleton's house but their plans are not yet
The Queen and Prince Philip will stay on the estate until the end of January.
Last year Kate spent her first Christmas at the Victorian house, surrounded by another 28 royals.
Every year there is a festive ritual that is always adhered to by family and visitors.
QUEEN'S MESSAGE SHOWN IN 3D
The Queen's Christmas message is to be screened in 3D and HD for the first time, it was announced today.
The traditional broadcast will go hi-tech to allow viewers to scrutinise the Queen as never before in her Diamond Jubilee year.
However, viewers will also be able to see the 86-year-old monarch in normal definition during the speech, which will be broadcast at 3pm on Christmas Day.
The theme of this year's message is not known but it is likely to feature the key highlights from 2012 – the London Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee.
The Queen has watched her 3D Christmas message, produced this year by Sky News, and enjoyed the experience.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the monarch thought the broadcast was 'absolutely lovely'.
She added: 'We wanted to do something a bit different and special in this Jubilee year, so doing it for the first time in 3D seemed a good thing, technology wise, to do.
'The Queen absolutely agreed straight away there was no need for convincing at all, she was absolutely ready to embrace something new in this year.'
First, guests are told what time they should arrive at Sandringham – usually on December 23rd.
It is most junior royals first, most senior last — and are expected to be prompt.
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The Queen, pictured arriving at the station, will take a 30-minute journey from Norfolk to the private estate
Afterwards, at around 10pm, the women move to another room for coffee, while the men are offered liquers.
The Queen normally doesn’t go to bed until midnight, and no one may leave the party until Her Majesty retires.
Christmas Day starts with a full English breakfast, before the annual outing to Sandringham parish church at 11am.
Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip get off the train at 12.26 at Kings Lynn station this afternoon
The public train the Royal couple have decided to travel on today first class
The Queen clutches a bunch of flowers and is wrapped up warm in a head scarf as she gets off the train
On their way, with the Queen taking the lead, the couple walk across the platform before taking a 30-minute journey to their private estate
Back at the big house, preparations will be under way for the traditional Christmas lunch — Norfolk turkey, accompanied by a selection of cold meats and an array of side dishes on silver salvers.
The Queen is in charge of the seating plan.
Unseen by guests, however, lunch at Sandringham is a drawn-out affair — with junior staff eating at 11am, senior staff an hour later, the royals at 1.15pm and the junior kitchen staff at 2.15pm.
Then everything comes to a halt so all can watch the Queen’s speech on TV at 3pm.
That afternoon, the royals may go for a walk with the dogs, perhaps play charades or watch TV.
WHAT NOVEL IS THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH READING
The book by Christopher Kelly that the Duke of Edinburgh was carrying is pictured
Prince Philip kept himself amused on the
train journey with the Queen today – by reading a book
about savage barbarian Attila The Hun.
The 91-year-old was seen
clutching his unusal choice of holiday reading as he and the Queen
caught a train to start their Christmas and New Year break at
The hardback book by Christopher Kelly entitled 'The End
of Empire, Attila The Hun And The Fall Of Rome' was first published in
2010 tells how the savage warrior king ravaged Rome in the 5th century.
is described on website Amazon as being 'an original exploration of the
clash between empire and barbarity in the ancient world, full of
Its author Mr Kelly, is a professor of ancient history and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge, where he received his PhD in classics.
He lives in Cambridge, England, and also Chicago, Illinois.
The book, The End of Attila the Hun and the Fall of Rome, is about the leader of the Huns, Attila.
The Romans perceived him as a savage barbarian brutally inflicting terror on whoever crossed his path.
Following Attila and the Huns from the steppes of Kazakhstan to the court of Constantinople, Christopher Kelly portrays Attila in a new light.
He uncovers an unlikely marriage proposal, a long-standing relationship with a treacherous Roman general, and a thwarted assassination plot.
Attila is shown as both a master warrior and an astute strategist whose rule was threatening but whose sudden loss of power was even more so.
The End of Empire is an original exploration of the clash between empire and barbarity in the ancient world.