Prince Philip And Camilla Absent From Royal Family Christmas Service

Lea van der Merwe

Tuesday morning saw senior members of the royal family heading to their traditional Christmas service at the St Mary Magdalene church in Sandringham in eastern England. Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Prince William, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex were all in attendance.

As reported by Reuters, Prince Philip, the Queen's husband, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, were both absent from the usual Christmas celebration.

While this may have sparked concerns for the Duke of Edinburgh's health, the palace has released a statement about his noticeable absence from the church service.

"The duke is in perfectly good health, he is just spending the day privately," the royal source said.

The 97-year-old duke has been keeping a relatively low profile since he retired from official royal duty in 2017 and has rarely been seen out in public in the past year. Other events at which he failed to appear include the Trooping the Colour ceremony in June, the Queen's public birthday celebration on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, and the RAF centenary flyover in July.

Earlier this year, Philip underwent successful hip replacement surgery after saying at the time of his retirement that he was struggling to stand up as much as he had been required to when attending to his royal duties.

The four young royals, Princes William and Harry, and their wives Catherine and Meghan, were all smiles as they made the walk to the church. Catherine wore a long coat in a festive shade of red, along with a matching hat. Her husband was all bundled up in a knee-length coat of his own and a dark blue scarf. Pregnant Meghan opted for a neutral black coat, which she left unbuttoned to show the matching black dress she had on underneath.

Despite months of rumors in tabloids about a feud between Catherine and Meghan, the women seemed to be chatting and laughing as they walked down the pathway to the church together with their husbands.

Parts of the Queen's Christmas message were also shared, in which the monarch called for unity and kindness in rather uncertain times. Although Queen Elizabeth is not allowed to show any political affiliation, she called for "peace on earth and goodwill," adding that "Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good step towards greater understanding."