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A fond welcome back, indeed!
Queen Elizabeth II has returned to her royal duties after falling ill over the holidays, causing her to miss the Christmas and New Year's celebrations.
The matriarch made her annual visit to the Sandringham branch of the Women's Institute on Thursday afternoon, dressing appropriately in a bright pink coat for the occasion. Her Royal Highness looked well, smiling from ear-to-ear as she was greeted by the institute's Vice President Yvonne Browne and later enjoyed tea and cake with the women at the West Newton village hall in Norfolk.
Meanwhile, the Queen and her husband Prince Phillip fell sick with a heavy cold right before the holidays. They were forced to cancel their plans to travel by train to Sandringham ahead of the Christmas holiday. Rather, they postponed their trip and took a helicopter instead.
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Then, she missed her annual New Year's Day church service due to her ongoing cold. Buckingham Palace released the following statement at the time: "Her Majesty The Queen will not attend Sunday worship at Sandringham today. The Queen does not yet feel ready to attend church as she is still recuperating from a heavy cold."
While a death hoax only heightened concern over the Queen's health, she has since returned to the public eye. On January 8, she attended the Sunday Church service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham alongside the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.
However, though Queen Elizabeth has resumed her royal duties, she previously announced her plans to stand down from 25 of her patronages and hand the charitable responsibilities over to younger members of the royal family.
While she'll remain a patron of roughly 600 organizations, royal expert Victoria Arbiter said her announcement is a sign of a royal transition in motion.
"We're definitely seeing a transition in progress. The royal family doesn't leave anything to chance," Arbiter said in an interview on Today. "We're seeing this really slow transition in place, but it doesn't mean she's any less committed to the role."