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The Queen prepares to leave Sandringham

The royal year in Britain is almost upon us. We've had a few engagements and several appearances but the actual calendar always gets into full swing when the Queen leaves Sandringham. And this Sunday, a traditional step towards the royal agenda cranking up took place when she went to church at West Newton and reminded us all that her Christmas break is nearly at an end.

The Queen's Christmas Speech for 2015 - her break at Sandringham is coming to an end

The Queen always spends the dark, cold days of January in Norfolk. After the flurry of December, the Christmas speech and the smiles for the camera arriving at St Mary Magdalene church there are four weeks at her Norfolk home which only ever come to an end once February has started and she reaches the anniversary of her accession - also the anniversary of her father's death and George VI passed away at Sandringham.


And every year there are moments that remind us the New Year is starting to unfold and the new royal year is about to begin. We've had the Queen's annual visit to her local Women's Institute, this week she visited a local hospice but when Elizabeth II steps out of her car and makes the walk to West Newton church then we know the regal calendar is about to fizz into full action. For the Queen always goes to church here just as her time at Sandringham draws to a close.

Sometimes there is snow on the ground as she makes her visit but this year it was mild and there was possibly a daffodil or two breaking through as the Queen appeared in bright red. The Duke of Edinburgh had a bandage on one hand and was wearing the sage green coat that has become a fixture over the festive break. Red and green - an appropriate end to the Christmas holidays.

There was a big crowd, lots of smiles and a mini walkabout and then it was back to Sandringham to get ready for the return to London and a new diary of engagements. It's looking a little lighter than when she headed to Norfolk following the postponement of the Spanish State Visit but with 90th birthday celebrations to come and a party that will mark that big birthday and celebrate her becoming Britain's longest reigning monarch there is more than enough to do in the months ahead. More pages will have been written in the history books before the Queen spends a February morning in West Newton again. It's going to be a good year.


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