Prayers for Prince Philip, as thousands turn out to greet the Queen, William and Kate, and Royal Family on Christmas Day at Sandringham in Norfolk

There were prayers for Prince Philip as the Queen and members of the Royal Family attended a Christmas Day service today.

As they left the service at the Church of St Mary Magdalen, on the Sandringham Estate, Royal Family members told well-wishers that the Duke of Edinburgh was in high spirits and recovering well.

Prince Philip, 90, was flown to Papworth Hospital on Friday night after suffering chest pains. He underwent an emergency operation to clear a blocked coronary artery.

During today's service, broadcast to the crowds outside the church via a PA system, the Revd Jonathan Riviere, Rector of Sanddringham, said: 'We pray for the Queen and the Royal Family. Especially today we pray for Prince Philip and his continued recovery.'

Earlier, thousands of well-wishers gathered to greet the Queen and members of the Royal Family.


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Most family members walked the half mile or so to church from sandringham House, led by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York. The Queen was driven to the service by Bentley, arriving as the party on foot arrived at the church.

The gathering is the largest ever seen at Sandringham, with the Duchess of Cambridge attending the family's Christmas day celebrations for the first time.

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Also present were the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

England rugby player Mike Tindall, and the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips, who married in the summer, also attended the service.

'Look, it's that cricketer,' said one woman in the crowd, as Mr Tindall wished the crowd a Merry Christmas.

After the half hour service, the Queen was greeted by a long line of children bearing flowers and gifts.

Family members came across to greet the large crowd which had gathered outside the church, led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Cub scout Freedom Tansley, nine, presented the couple with an album of pictures he has taken of them.

'We flew in from Turkey, we've been here since three this morning,' said his mother Peg, a Canadian living in Turkey, where her husband works.

'He was very grateful,' said Freedom - the youngest cub scout to have earned all of his badges. 'I took some pictures of him flying his helicopter at Balmoral.'

Mrs Tansley said: 'My son loves the Queen. He comes to see the Queen because in the cubs, they pledge to do their duty for the Queen.'

As they chatted to well-wishers, the Royals said the Duke of Edinburgh was recovering well.

Prince Charles said he was 'resilient' and 'very determined'.

Carmilla Fitt, 71, who lives near Dover, Kent, and is spending Christmas in the Sandringham area, said: 'Charles said he is coming on. He is very well and in very good spirits. He said he is very determined.'

The Duke of Cambridge told well-wishers that the Duke was 'very well, thank you. Getting much better'.

Buckingham Palace officials said Philip 'remains in good spirits'.

Later Princes William and Harry were among the royal visitors who brought Christmas cheer to the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Duke of Cambridge and his younger brother drove separate cars to Papworth Hospital near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, after the Royal Family's Christmas lunch at Sandringham.

With them arrived the Duke of York's daughters Beatrice and Eugenie and the Princess Royal's children Zara and Peter.

William arrived driving a Range Rover with Peter and Zara his passengers, while Harry drove an Audi with Beatrice and Eugenie inside.

Prince Philip's grandchildren appeared to have changed into more casual outfits - William was wearing a shirt and dark blue jumper and glasses, and Harry sported a shirt and zip-up top.

The Duke of Edinburgh, 90, was taken to Papworth, a specialist heart hospital, on Friday night after complaining of chest pains and, following tests, a blocked artery was discovered by doctors.

He underwent a 'minimally invasive procedure of coronary stenting', which was declared a success.

No details have been given about when he will be discharged, although medical experts have said many patients can be discharged a day after undergoing the procedure, providing there are no complications.

Philip was visited in hospital on Christmas Eve by family members, including the Queen - who was flown to Papworth from Sandringham - and the Prince of Wales.

The Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Duchess of Cornwall also visited the Duke's bedside.

Papworth describes itself as the UK's largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital and the country's main heart and lung transplant centre and carries out 2,500 stent procedures a year.

Dr Simon Davies, consultant intervention cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, said Philip may have been on the verge of a heart attack or might actually have suffered one before the stenting procedure was performed.

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