Queen Elizabeth travelled by public train to her first royal engagement of the year yesterday (03.01.08).

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The queen and her husband Prince Philip joined passengers on the 9.56am train from Norfolk’s King’s Lynn to London’s King’s Cross before heading to St James’ Palace where they hosted a royal reception.

The royal pair spent the one-hour forty-minute journey in a first-class carriage with a private secretary and a detective.

A royal aide told the Daily Express: “The carriage wasn’t closed off – other commuters could have come in and joined them – but there weren’t any other passengers travelling in first class.”

The 81-year-old monarch and Philip, 86, paid UKP41 each for their return tickets, missing out on the discount to which they were entitled as senior citizens.

A spokesperson for train company First Capital Connect said: “They’re both entitled to a Senior Citizens’ rail card. If they’d had one of those they could have done it for UKP27.50.”

When she arrived in London the queen hosted a reception for speakers and presiding officers from the parliaments of Commonwealth countries.

The Commonwealth is a 53-nation international organisation headed by Queen Elizabeth, which is mostly made up of ex-British colonies, with the exceptions of the United Kingdom itself and Mozambique.

Following the reception, the queen and Prince Philip returned to their royal Norfolk estate, Sandringham, where they will reside until February.