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Queen Elizabeth spends Christmas in hospital beside husband

Queen Elizabeth’s 90-year-old husband spent Christmas Day in a hospital bed on Sunday after successful surgery to clear a blocked heart artery, missing the royal family’s celebrations at its rural Sandringham estate in eastern England.

Buckingham Palace said Prince Philip, Britain’s longest serving consort, was in “good spirits” when the Queen and other royals visited him on Saturday, but he was also said to be eager to leave.

Members of the royal family were expected to make another trip to the Papworth heart and chest centre near Cambridge to see Philip after their traditional Christmas lunch on Sunday, British media reported.

The prince will probably have to spend most, if not all, of the Christmas holiday period in hospital to give doctors time to monitor his recovery from the minor operation on Friday night, after he suffered chest pains in the run-up to Christmas.

Despite his age, he has been in generally good health this year, seeing through a hectic schedule which included the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, a jaunt to Australia and a visit from U.S. President Barack Obama.

On turning 90 in June, he said he was looking forward to slowing down a little, but the Queen, 85, celebrates her 60th year on the throne in 2012, which will involve a busy tour across Britain and several other high-profile engagements.

The royals attended a Christmas church service at Sandringham on Sunday.

The family appeared relaxed, some smiling and chatting as they entered the church.

Well-wishers waited outside in mild winter air to catch a glimpse of the royals as they arrived.

Meanwhile, in her annual Christmas Day message, the Queen stressed the importance of the bond of family and community.

Fittingly, this year saw the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with other acts of community, like a meeting of the Commonwealth leaders in Australia.

The Queen also took time to note that there is sometimes both good and bad in the world around us.

“Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves, from our recklessness or our greed,” the Queen said.

The Queen also described how family doesn’t have to be limited to bloodlines, but can instead include any community, organization or nation.

The speech was recorded earlier this month at Buckingham Palace before Prince Philip’s hospitalization and treatment for a blocked coronary artery.