01/03/2012 08:24 EST | Updated 03/04/2012 05:12 EST

Body near Queen's holiday home treated as murder

British police say the discovery of a body in a wooded area close to Sandringham House, a holiday residence of the Royal Family, is now being treated as a murder.

Det. Chief Insp. Jes Fry said Tuesday that authorities are examining unsolved cases around Britain to see if they are connected to the woman's body found on the estate on New Year's Day.

"We are at the very early stages of the investigation and it could be a complex inquiry. The body had been there for some time," Fry said.

A member of the public found the body in a woodland at Anmer, a tiny village 185 kilometres northeast of London that is part of the Queen's sprawling, 8,000-hectare Sandringham estate.

According to a release from the Norfolk Constabulary, a member of the public made the discovery and reported it to authorities shortly after 4 p.m. local time Sunday.

Several dozen people live in Anmer, which is about five kilometres from Sandringham House, a private residence for British monarchs since 1862. The Queen and Prince Philip, who is recovering from recent heart surgery, spent some of their Christmas holidays at the residence and were there on New Year's Day.

Buckingham Palace has referred questions about the find back to police.

The BBC says forensic science experts are carrying out a detailed search of the area.

An autopsy is being conducted Tuesday.

Police gave no indication of the age or nature of the remains.