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Sunday, 7 January, 2001, 15:11 GMT
Margaret 'getting better' says Queen
Princess Margaret
The princess has a history of poor health
The Queen tells well-wishers at the Sandringham estate that Princess Margaret is "getting better" after suffering what doctors say may have been a second slight stroke.

Princess Margaret, 71, is thought to have been largely bedridden at Sandringham since before Christmas.

The Queen was speaking to well-wishers outside the church on the royal estate at Sandringham in Norfolk on Sunday morning.

She was asked about her sister's health as she collected flowers from members of the public after the Sunday morning service at St Mary Magdalen church.

It will be some while before the success of the present treatment can be judged

Buckingham Palace
Pensioner Mary Relph, of Shouldham, Norfolk, asked her how the princess was, and the Queen replied: "She is getting better."

Margaret has been absent from church services at Sandringham over the Christmas and New Year period, and did not attend on Sunday.

The Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother - whose left leg was heavily strapped - were present for the service.

Prayers for the royal family were said as usual, but the Rector of Sandringham, the Rev George Hall, made no mention of Princess Margaret in particular.

The Queen and Queen Mother arrived by car - out of sight of the crowd of about 100 people who had gathered at the building's front entrance.

But they left by the front entrance, with the Queen Mother - who celebrated her 100th birthday in August - walking down a short flight of steps.

Both received bouquets from a number of children before returning to Sandringham.

Health problems

Princess Margaret, who lives at Kensington Palace, has a history of poor health.

She suffered her first stroke in February 1998, on the Caribbean island of Mustique.

She also suffered serious burns to her legs and feet in an accident on holiday in March 1999, and has given up smoking after part of her lung was removed.

Following medical tests, doctors believe she may have had a further minor stroke or is still suffering the follow-on effects of the first.

People who have suffered one stroke run a higher risk of having another.

Princess Margaret seen recently with her mother
Princess Margaret seen recently with her mother

On Wednesday evening Buckingham Palace issued a statement which read: "It will be some while before the success of the present treatment can be judged and the extent of her recovery can be determined with a view to her deciding on what kind of public engagements she will wish to fulfil in the future."

The Palace has said her condition is "stable" and not life-threatening.

She was last seen in public in November at a London Ballet gala evening.

In a separate incident near the Sandringham church on Sunday, a trailer being towed by a vehicle driven by a royal estate worker broke free and hit a retired policeman's car, minutes before the royal party arrived. No one was injured.

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