Philip misses British royals' Christmas

Dec. 25, 2011 at 10:34 AM

LONDON, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- The British royal family's Christmas gathering was missing patriarch Prince Philip for the first time Sunday as he recovered from heart surgery.

At least 3,000 people thronged around the royal estate in Sandringham in eastern England to watch Queen Elizabeth and her family walk to a church service at the St. Mary Magdalene church, The Mirror reported.

It was the first time Greek-born Philip wasn't with them for the Christmas tradition. The 90-year-old underwent surgery Friday to open a blocked coronary artery and was reportedly in good condition Sunday in a hospital roughly midway between London and Sandringham.

At the church, the Rev. Jonathan Riviere called for prayers for Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the BBC said.

"We pray for the queen and the royal family, especially today we pray for Prince Philip and his continued recovery," Riviere said.

The queen and various family members were scheduled to be flown by helicopter to visit Philip in the hospital Sunday afternoon.

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