Queen takes train from London to King’s Lynn, to get Sandringham House ready for Royal Family’s Christmas break in Norfolk

Passengers on the 10.45am to King's Lynn were joined by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, as they travelled to Norfolk to spend Christmas with their family today.

The trip marks the fourth occasion that the 86-year-old Monarch - who can also call upon the services of her own Royal Train - has caught a scheduled public service between the capital and her country retreat. She was joined for the first time by Prince Philip today.

There was a buzz of excitement around the station before the train arrived which increased as surprised passengers at King's Lynn station saw her alight from the train.

As well as the Queen, the Duke and their security officers, there were around 50 passengers on board the service.

The Royal couple left the station via a side gate close to Platform Two, which is not usually open to the public. Police had carried out a thorough search of the station before their arrival.

The Queen, who was wearing a headscarf and chequered coat with pillarbox red detailing, and Duke are believed to have travelled on �50 First Class Any Time Single tickets for the 100-mile journey.

First Capital Connect, which runs trains between London King's Cross and King's Lynn, said apart from her own compartment, no special arrangements were made.

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There were no major delays today although the train arrived at King's Lynn a little later than scheduled at 12.26, after stopping at Cambridge, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market and Watlington.

Police and a fleet of Range Rovers were waiting to greet the Monarch, along with a small group of well-wishers and journalists.

Each year, the Queen and members of her immediate family spend Christmas on the Royal Estate.

Almost 30 members of the Royal Family are expected to join them in Norfolk over the next few days.

Guests are likely to include Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Priness Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.

Younger members of the party are expected to include Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Lady Louise and Viscount Severn. Prince Harry won't be attending the Sandringham meal as he's currently serving in Afghanistan.

Also present will be Peter Phillips, his wife Autumn and their daughter Savannah - whose name was first revealed at a service on the estate at Christmas 2010, when the then new-born baby was mentioned in prayers.

Also expected are Viscount Linley, son of the late Princess Margaret, his wife Serena and children the Honourable Charles and Margarita Armstrong-Jones.

His sister Lady Sarah Chatto, her husband Daniel and children Samuel and Arthur Chatto are also understood to be coming to Norfolk.

Crowds are expected to gather outside Sandringham Church on Christmas Day to greet the Royal Family after the service.

It comes as it was announced that the Queen's Christmas message is to be screened in 3D and HD for the first time.

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 first-ever Christmas Day speech came from Sandringham, when King George V took to the airwaves live from an improvised studio in the house.