(Reuters) - British police have launched a murder investigation after a woman's body was discovered on Queen Elizabeth's Sandringham country estate in eastern England.
The remains were found on Sunday afternoon by a member of the public shortly after the queen and her husband Prince Philip attended a New Year's Day church service nearby.
Police said they had sealed off the area where the body was found in woodland in Anmer, a village on the eastern edge of the 8,000 hectare (20,000 acres) site, and would remove the remains for a post mortem later.
"We are at the very early stages of the investigation and it could be a complex inquiry," Detective Chief Inspector Jes Fry of Norfolk Police told reporters. "The body had been there for some time.
"The circumstances suggest this is a murder case and we are looking at missing persons reports and cold cases, both locally and nationwide," he added.
The queen spent Christmas and New Year at Sandringham House in the west of the estate and is not expected to return to Buckingham Palace in London until February, a royal spokesman said.
She had been informed about the discovery, her office said.
Prince Philip's attendance at the church service was his first public appearance after a Christmas health scare.
Sandringham has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862.
(Reporting by Tim Castle)