Queen Elizabeth and royal family celebrate Christmas while Prince Philip stays home

/ AP

Queen Elizabeth II was cheered by onlookers when she and other senior royals arrived at a Christmas church service on the grounds of one of her country estates.

The 92-year-old queen arrived by car Tuesday morning while younger royals walked from her grand country house in Sandringham to nearby St. Mary Magdalene Church.

Prince Charles led the way, followed by his sons: Prince William and his wife Catherine and Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who is expecting their first child in the spring.

Harry and Meghan walked arm in arm next to William and Catherine. Many in the crowd wished the young royals a "Merry Christmas" as they strolled to the church on a cold wintry day in the English countryside.

Britain's Prince Charles; Prince William; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Meghan, Duchess of Sussex; and Prince Harry arrive at St. Mary Magdalene's church for the royal family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Dec. 25, 2018. Hannah Mckay / REUTERS

Later they received flowers from the crowd after the 45-minute service as they headed back to Sandringham House ahead of a traditional Christmas lunch.

The queen's husband, Prince Philip, who is 97 and largely retired from public life, did not attend the church service. Charles' wife Camilla, who is recovering from flu, also skipped the service.

Many other members of the royal family were also in attendance. Prince Andrew, the queen's son, arrived by car with his mother. Princess Eugenie, one of the queen's grandchildren, arrived with her new husband Jack Brooksbank.

Britain's royals usually exchange small gifts on Christmas Eve, a practice popularized by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The queen typically frowns on extravagant gifts and many of the presents are novelty items.

When the queen was younger, there would typically be a brisk family walk through the woods on Christmas or an excursion on horseback.

The queen's pre-recorded annual message to Britain and the 52 other Commonwealth nations will be televised in the afternoon.

Elizabeth made her first Christmas Day broadcast on the radio in 1952, the year she ascended to the throne.

Britain's royal line of succession
Britain's royal line of succession 26 photos

First published on December 25, 2018

© 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Members of Royal family arrive at St Mary Magdalene's church for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England Britain's royal line of succession

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