Queen pulls out of annual Women’s Institute meeting due to cold

Robert Jobson, Katy Clifton
The Queen has pulled out of an annual Women's Institute meeting: REUTERS

The Queen has pulled out of her annual visit to the Sandringham Women's Institute meeting as she has a cold and is "not feeling up to it".

The 93-year-old joined the Sandringham branch of the WI in 1943 when she was still Princess Elizabeth, and attends each year as part of her winter stay in Norfolk.

But around half-an-hour before her expected arrival at West Newton Village Hall on Thursday, a member of her security team told assembled reporters and photographers that she will not be coming this year.

A royal source described the illness as a “slight cold”.

This year’s guest speaker, BBC News At Ten Presenter Huw Edwards, had already arrived at the venue.

Presenter and newsreader Huw Edwards arrives for his guest appearance at Sandringham Women's Institute (PA)

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Edwards said it was “daunting and exciting in equal measure” to have been invited to talk at the event.

Before it emerged the Queen would not be attending, Edwards added: “I’m no stranger to public speaking but I think this is a slightly exceptional event so I’m being brave and been thinking carefully about what I might want to say.

“I think a bit like the Prime Minister allegedly before Brexit, I’ve got several options, I’ve got several versions.

Members of Queen Elizabeth II security detail inform local police of the cancelled visit (PA)

“I’m not quite decided yet on what the ultimate message will be but I’d like to talk a little bit about the business I’m in and the way it’s changed over the years and what the challenges are now in terms of journalism and broadcasting.

“Maybe that sounds a bit serious but I’ll try to do something along those lines.”

Members welcome a different guest speaker each year, and enjoy tea and cakes.

Additional reporting by Press Association.