Murder probe after body found on queen's estate
updated 2:52 PM EST, Tue January 3, 2012
- NEW: Police say the young woman's body has been at the site for between 1 and 4 months
- The remains were found by a member of the public in woods on the huge estate
- The queen and royal family spend Christmas at Sandringham
- Buckingham Palace has not confirmed whether the queen is aware of the grisly find
London (CNN) -- Police launched a murder investigation Tuesday after a woman's body was found on Queen Elizabeth II's estate in Sandringham, in the English county of Norfolk.
Officers were alerted Sunday by a member of the public who found the remains while walking in the woods by the village of Anmer, near the town of King's Lynn, Norfolk police said.
Police said the area had been sealed off while forensic investigations are carried out.
An autopsy conducted Tuesday revealed the remains were of a young woman and had been at the site for between one and four months, police said.
The pathologist "believes it is highly unlikely the death was through natural causes," the police statement said. "There is no evidence of accidental injury, damage due to firearms or bladed weapon."
Police should have a DNA profile within the next 24 hours, the statement added.
Investigators said they would be looking at cold cases as part of the probe.
Sandringham House, at the heart of the 20,000-acre rural estate, is where the royal family traditionally gathers to celebrate Christmas. It's been the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862, and is one of two private residences used by the queen. Part of the estate is a 600-acre country park open to the public.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman told CNN Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip "are in residence at Sandringham from mid-December to the end of January.
"It is a private residence, we cannot confirm whether or not the queen has been informed or not," the spokesman said, referring to the murder investigation.
Prince Philip has been recuperating at Sandringham since he was released from the hospital a week ago after having a coronary stent implanted. He attended a service at the church on the estate Monday.
Sandringham House and its gardens are open to the public from April to November.
CNN's Alexander Felton and Max Foster contributed to this report.
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