Queen Elizabeth departs for Christmas trip after health-related delay

Last Updated Dec 22, 2016 9:07 AM EST

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is getting on with her Christmas plans after a one-day delay because of a cold. 

Officials said the queen and her husband Prince Philip left London by helicopter on Thursday, reports CBS News correspondnet Mark Phillips. 

A spokesperson said Wednesday that “heavy colds” had kept them from traveling by train as scheduled. Again Thursday morning initial word was that the royal couple would stay put to recuperate, but by early Thursday afternoon, palace officials confirmed they were airborne, on their way to Sandringham.

As Phillips reports, the Royal Standard -- the queen’s official flag which indicates where she is -- was still flying over Buckingham Palace Thursday morning. It shouldn’t have been. 

The royals should already have been at their country estate in Sandringham, up in the northeast of England, where they go every Christmas. 

The family parade at Sandringham is as much a part of the holidays in Britain as Christmas trees and carols, although the queen now drives herself to church.

The fact that the queen’s trip was delayed -- even briefly -- this year for health reasons is causing worry.

Queen Elizabeth II famously carries on regardless, and this time, apparently, she couldn’t carry on quite as she had intended.

“I think that’s really significant – the fact that the queen felt unwell enough to travel to Sandringham, when that’s all she would have want to have done yesterday, was stick to her plan,” said Roya Nikkah, a royal commentator.

The queen is 90 now. Prince Philip is 95 and has had a number of health issues over the past years. The famous royal stoicism has come up against the hard place of advancing years lately.

Philip was hospitalized for what was called a bladder infection after the couple stood in the rain for hours during a river pageant a few years ago.

He’s been rushed to hospital several times for a series of heart problems and investigative surgery. 

The couple have announced they’ll be doing fewer public events. But they’re still determined to do what they can. 

So when they can’t, the world notices.

The queen and Prince Philip are famously robust for people their age. In fact, Philip bragged to a doctor last month, wondering why he hadn’t had the flu for 40 years. 

Maybe, the doctor replied, it’s because he doesn’t ride the subway like normal people.