Prince Charles, Prince Harry and Prince Philip all attended the annual Christmas church service at Sandringham this morning. However, Queen Elizabeth II, who has been suffering from a 'heavy cold' for several days, was noticeably absent
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Buckingham Palace said in a statement early this morning, "Her Majesty The Queen will not attend St. Mary Magdalene Church at Sandringham this morning. The Queen continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery. Her Majesty will participate in the royal family Christmas celebrations during the day."
It is reportedly the first time in 28 years the Queen has not attended the Christmas church service.
Queen Elizabeth II and Philip postponed their travel earlier this week by a day because they were ill. They usually board the royal train in London for Norfolk, but in an unusual move took a helicopter 24 hours later
William and Kate, who chose to spend Christmas with the Middleton family in Bucklebury this year, were shown arriving at a church close to Kate's parents' home with Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
The Queen's annual Christmas message this year focused on the themes of "ordinary people doing extraordinary things" and "unsung heroes." The royal family watched the Queen's Christmas message together.
"I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organizers and good neighbors; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special. They are an inspiration to those who know them," the queen said in her videotaped Christmas message as she sat at a desk near a fireplace in the Regency room of Buckingham Palace. She wore a blue Angela Kelly Dress and pearl-and-diamond brooch.
Queen Elizabeth II used the message to praise those doing "inspirational" work and cited Prince William, an air ambulance pilot, and all those he works with performing that service.
"A few months ago, I saw inspiration of a different kind when I opened the new Cambridge base of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, where Prince William works as a helicopter pilot. It was not hard to be moved by the dedication of the highly skilled doctors, paramedics and crew, who are called out on average five times a day"
Christmas was also tinged with sadness for the royal family. On Christmas Eve, the queen's oldest granddaughter, Zara Phillips Tindall, the daughter of Princess Anne, announced she had suffered a miscarriage and lost the baby she was expecting.
On Dec. 26, the royal family traditionally takes part in an annual Boxing Day celebration.