Prince Andrew at Sandringham as Queen arrives without Philip for Christmas church service

  • Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

The Queen was joined by members of the Royal Family as they attended the annual Christmas Day service at Sandringham.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte joined their grandmother at the service for the first time on a day the Queen highlighted how the younger generation can lead the way in tackling global issues like climate change in her Christmas message.

The Duke of Edinburgh did not attend the church service on the Queen’s private estate in Norfolk after being discharged from hospital on Christmas Eve.

The duke was admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London on Friday and spent four nights having treatment for an undisclosed ongoing health issue.

The 98-year-old, who received minor injuries after being involved in a car crash near the estate in January, missed the service at St Mary Magdalene Church last year to stay at home, despite being in good health at the time.

Prince Andrew arrived with Prince Charles at the church for the 9am service, ahead of the royal family's traditional 11am service, which he did not go to.

The duke's appearance comes after the fallout from his disastrous television interview about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew stepped down from public duties for the foreseeable future following his appearance on BBC Newsnight, when he was heavily criticised for showing little remorse over his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein.

In the interview, the duke denied claims he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions.

The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York arrive for the early Christmas Day church service in Sandringham, ahead of the main service Credit: PA
Prince George and Princess Charlotte after the church service Credit: PA

In another departure from last year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not attend the service, instead choosing to celebrate Archie Mountbatten-Windsor’s first festive season in Canada with the duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland.

Harry and Meghan's decision to spend Christmas away from Sandringham follows claims of a rift, first between Meghan and Kate, which appeared to have been been quashed as they arrived together at last year’s service, and then between Harry and brother William.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte attended the service for the first time with their parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Credit: PA

In an ITV documentary broadcast in October, Harry, when asked about the situation, said he loved his brother dearly but they were “on different paths at the moment”.

Prince George, aged six, and four-year-old Princess Charlotte attended the service for the first time, walking the short distance from Sandringham House to St Mary Magdalene Church hand in hand with their parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. One-year-old Prince Louis stayed at home.

Others attending the main morning service included Princess Beatrice and her fiance, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.

As the Queen is head of the Church of England, the service is a key part of royal celebrations.

Following the service, the Windsors enjoy a festive lunch back at Sandringham House and then settle down together to watch the Queen’s Christmas Day speech.

In her broadcast to the nation and the Commonwealth, the Queen is to acknowledge the “bumpy” path the Royal Family and the nation has experienced over the past 12 months.