Queen leaves Sandringham following winter break

The Queen has left Sandringham to head back to London following her winter break.

Dressed in a pale blue patterned headscarf and blue coat and carrying her trademark black handbag, was pictured at King's Lynn station.

The 93-year-old head of state's annual stay on her private estate was less peaceful than usual. She held a "Megxit" crisis summit in early January, resulting in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex quitting royal life and dropping their HRH styles for a life of financial freedom.

The Queen was heading back to Buckingham Palace on the day the news was confirmed that her eldest grandson Peter Phillips has split from his wife Autumn.

He will be the first of her grandchildren to divorce. The monarch stays in Sandringham each year over the Christmas period until after the anniversary of her accession on February 6 - also the anniversary of the death of her father, George VI.

This year, she reached her 68th year on the throne - and is only two years away from her platinum jubilee.

The Duke of Edinburgh, 98, who retired in 2017, remained behind in Sandringham. He now spends much of his time at Wood Farm, a farmhouse in Wolferton. He was in hospital for four nights just before Christmas for treatment relating to a "pre-existing condition".

The Queen walking alongside the station Manager Graeme Pratt. Credit: PA

The Queen missed a planned meeting at her local Women's Institute in January because of a slight cold.

But she was out and about last week, visiting RAF Marham, and also opening Wolferton's new pumping station, which dries out the surrounding marshland for farming.

In her Christmas Day message, the Queen acknowledged the "bumpy" path her family and the country had experienced during the past 12 months.