We're on track for Christmas when the Queen gets the train to Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 12:52 20 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:14 24 December 2018
You know Christmas is just around the corner when the Queen gets the train to King's Lynn.
The 92-year-old monarch arrived on the 10.42am Great Northern service from London King’s Cross to begin her festive break in Norfolk.
Many passengers on the scheduled train, which arrived on time, did not realise who was sitting in the front first class compartment.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who usually travels up from London with his wife was not present. A well-placed Royal source said there were no health issues, but now that he had retired he does not operate the same schedule as the Queen.
Accompanied by aides carrying her red boxes and protection officers, the Queen was greeted by station manager Graham Pratt, who escorted her to her waiting Range Rover.
“She just talked about the weather, had it been wet, had it been raining,” he said. “She just said she’d had a pleasant journey.”
The Queen, who was wearing a camel coat and Burberry-style head scarf, is believed to have bought a £58 first class single ticket for the 90-minute journey from the capital.
She left the platform via a side entrance christened the Royal Gate, complete with crest, before being driven to Sandringham, where the Royal Family spends Christmas.
Many passengers said they did not even realise she was on the train.
Barry Knox, visiting from New Zealand, said: “No way. I can’t believe that.”
Passenger Phil Kay, 62, who boarded the train at Downham Market, said he did not know the Queen was on board until he arrived at King’s Lynn and saw police and photographers on the platform.
“I didn’t see her, well, not that we went up that end of the train but it’s marvellous isn’t it?” he said. “I think it’s great that she does (travel by train).
“It just makes her more acceptable to the people doing things like that.”
Helena Cartwright, who joined the train at Watlington, the final stop before King’s Lynn, said she wondered why the train had terminated at Platform Two.
Rumours began circulating that the station was expecting a Royal arrival, as press and police flooded the platform.
David Graham, 56, from Lynn, who described himself as a superstar DJ, said: “She can come round mine for a cup of tea if she likes. I don’t mind her, she doesn’t do a bad job.”
Earlier, police searched the station as a security precaution. Spaniel Robbie was working his last shift as a British Transport Police sniffer dog before retiring.
A larger than usual crowd of photographers were waiting for the Queen - possibly due to media speculation over arrangements at Sandringham this Christmas.
The monarch usually arrives a few days before her extended family to oversee preparations at her country retreat.
She will choose a tree from her own sawmill for the centrepiece and plan Christmas menus.
She will also visit her horses at the Royal Stud at Anmer, to check on progress of this year’s foals.
Family members traditionally arrive on Christmas Eve in order of seniority.
MORE - which Royals are coming to Norfolk for Christmas?
Thousands are expected to flock to see the Queen and her family attend the Christmas Day service at Sandringham Church.
Ardent Royal watchers queue from the early hours to ensure a good vantage point.
Additional reporting: Madeline Bush and Emily Prince