ABC News’ Kelly Cobiella reports:
The royal Christmas at Sandringham went on as planned without Prince Philip, who remains in the hospital and is expected to miss the traditional Boxing Day pheasant shoot. But the royal family wanted everything to remain as normal as possible despite the health scare.
The queen’s Christmas message to the country, which the family traditionally views together, seemed to take on special significance this year.
“The importance of family has, of course, come home to Prince Philip and me personally this year with the marriages of two of our grandchildren, each in their own way a celebration of the God given love that binds a family together,” she said in the message, which was recorded Dec. 9.
In addition to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips married rugby player Mike Tindall in August.
Prince Philip, 90, spent a third night in the hospital after undergoing emergency surgery Friday at Papworth Hospital to repair a blocked coronary artery. He was admitted with chest pain, and doctors have kept him for observation after inserting a stent. The length of his expected stay is still unknown.
The royal Christmas includes the exchange of gifts on Christmas Eve and a lunchtime feast on Christmas Day. The Duchess of Cambridge celebrated her first Christmas with the family, and was reportedly a natural in her role. Prince William seemed genuinely surprised to find his new wife entertaining the record crowds who had come out early to catch a glimpse of her outside St. Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. The duchess stunned in a plum coat and hat, one of five outfits she was set to wear on Christmas Day.
After the traditional lunch, William, Harry and four of the queen’s other grandchildren made the 50-mile trek to the hospital in Cambridgeshire to bring their grandfather some Christmas cheer.
The queen may be the head of state, but her Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, most definitely runs the home. Christmas without him was no doubt difficult.
“All too often I fear Prince Philip has had to listen to me speaking but he has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years,” she has said.
Prince Philip is the patriarch of the family and heads the Christmas celebrations. He is reportedly in good spirits and eager to be released but will likely miss the annual pheasant shoot, an event he usually leads. It’s is expected to go on without him, but will Kate participate? She has been seen practicing her skills but will likely leave the shooting to others and observe, along with sister Pippa Middleton, who was invited to attend.