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Sunday, September 5, 1999 Published at 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK


UK: Scotland

Queen Mother beats flu to attend church

The Royal Family attend Crathie Kirk when staying at Balmoral

The Queen Mother has quelled fears over the state of her health by attending Crathie Kirk near Balmoral.

She joined the Queen and Prince Philip for the Sunday morning service - along with Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie.

Concerns for her health rose the day before when she failed to appear at the Braemar Gathering Highland Games. The Gathering has become a regular fixture on her calender while she holidays at nearby Balmoral.

But despite looking slightly pale, the Queen Mother, who recently celebrated her 99th birthday, delighted onlookers by waving cheerfully to them as they lined the five-minute drive from Balmoral Castle to the tiny hilltop church.

Break with tradition

Officials said she had been advised against going to the Braemar games after suffering a bout of flu.

The illness had also prevented her from taking part in an engagement on Thursday.

But at Crathie she got in and out of her limousine with any assistance and observers said she looked resplendent in a lilac coat and matching hat.

Mr and Mrs Blair broke with tradition by attending the games which, in the past sitting PMs have always shied away from.

But on Sunday the Blairs were firmly back in step with the way things have always been done, attending the service even though Mrs Blair is a Roman Catholic and Mr Blair frequently worships with her in a Roman Catholic church.

Onlookers

Mrs Blair, dressed in a coffee brown skirt suit and big picture hat, arrived with the Prime Minister at the pink granite church in a Range Rover 10 minutes early.

Five minutes later came the Queen Mother and a further five minutes later the Queen, who was wearing a navy suit with red motifs.

Onlookers at Crathie were delighted to see the Queen Mother.

Holidaymaker Hilary Reid, from Cheshire, said: "I was so worried when I heard she was ill. It is good to see it is not something serious."





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