The Princess Royal has moved to allay fears about the Queen's health by insisting she was feeling "better" despite missing church at Sandringham for the second successive Sunday.
Concerns for Her Majesty have been growing since a heavy cold prevented her from joining the Royal family at church on Christmas Day, the first time in 28 years she had missed the service.
Her absence from the New Year's Day service came after Buckingham Palace announced she "does not yet feel ready to attend church as she is still recuperating from a heavy cold".
Her Majesty has enjoyed such robust health throughout her life that it is rare for her to miss any public appearance, and her continued absence has led to speculation around the world about the extent of her illness.
The Royal family rarely comment on health matters, but when she was asked by a member of the public how the Queen was feeling, the Princess Royal smiled and said: "Better."
Her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Lawrence was asked the same question and said: "Not too bad."
The Duke of Edinburgh looked anything but worried as he attended the New Year service, smiling at wellwishers and appearing to make jokes about the weather.
The Queen has not been photographed since December 9, when she attended a function at Buckingham Palace, and will not now be seen in public until at least next Sunday, when she will again be due to attend St Mary Magdalene Church, 400 yards from Sandringham House.
If she does make an appearance, it will be the first time in a month that she has been photographed.
She has stayed indoors for almost a fortnight, though royal sources have insisted she is "up and about".
Clare Gerada, former head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said a particular nasty cold strain was hitting people of all ages this winter, taking three weeks to clear.
She said: "We are seeing an awful lot of people this winter with a virus that is more severe than a normal cold, almost a type of bronchitis.
"It is causing a hacking cough and if the Queen has got it, then she is probably exhausted from coughing. It may well be affecting her sleep as well, which would leave anyone feeling exhausted, never mind a 90-year-old.
"It's taking three to four weeks for people to completely recover, and the length of time the Queen has been ill would be in keeping with that."
The Queen first started feeling unwell before Christmas, cancelling her planned train journey to Sandringham from London on December 20.
She and the Duke of Edinburgh were both poorly, and they flew to Norfolk by helicopter on December 21 instead.
The Duke, 95, had recovered sufficiently by Christmas Day to walk to church, though he was driven to the New Year service to avoid heavy rain. He was accompanied in the car by the Countess of Wessex.
The Earl of Wessex and his daughter Lady Louise Windsor, 13, chose to walk to and from the church with Princess Anne and Sir Tim.
The Earl wished a Happy New Year to onlookers, saying: "Let's hope it gets better. It can't get much worse."
Prince Harry had already left Sandringham and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been spending the Christmas break with the Middleton family in Berkshire.
Among the wellwishers outside the church were horticultural worker John Disdel, 69 of Gedney Drove End, Lincolnshire, who said: "I didn't really expect the Queen to attend. Being wrapped up warm at home is the best place for a 90-year-old who is ill. You can't read anything into her not being here."
Catherine Jarvis, 40, of Loughton, Essex, said: "We are just hoping she is OK. She doesn't have to come out and prove anything to us. Christmas is all about being with your family."