On Christmas Day, Britain’s royal family traditionally attend a service at the St Mary Magdalene church in Sandringham, eastern England. Princes William and Harry were there with their wives, Kate and Meghan. The US-born actress, who is pregnant, exchanged a smile with Kate as they walked to church.
Queen Elizabeth attended the service too, as did Charles, Prince of Wales, heir to the throne. Charles’ wife, Camilla, did not attend, according to a Reuters photographer at the church.
Notably absent, too, was Elizabeth’s husband Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, though a royal source said that the 97-year old was in good health and just wanted to spend the day in private.
Philip married Elizabeth in 1947 and has been by his wife's side throughout her reign, the longest in British history.
“The duke is in perfectly good health, he is just spending the day privately,” the royal source said.
Former naval officer Philip, who had successful hip replacement surgery earlier this year, retired from public life last year, quipping at the time that he was no longer able to "stand up much”.
Elizabeth said in her Christmas message that the traditions of peace and goodwill need to be heeded as much as ever, and people should respect each other even when they harbour the most deeply held differences.
“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.”
The 92-year-old monarch also spoke of family and friendship following a year in which her grandson Harry married Meghan at a dazzling ceremony.
Speaking about the birth of Jesus, she said: “I believe his message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone; it's needed as much as ever.”
(Reporting by Hannah McKay, writing by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Robin Pomeroy)