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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 December, 2003, 12:21 GMT
Royals attend Christmas service
The Queen
The Queen's speech praises British troops
The Queen has made her first public appearance since she underwent knee surgery, attending a Christmas Day church service at Sandringham.

She missed her traditional stroll to church, arriving instead by car with a bandage visible on her left knee.

The Queen was joined by other members of the Royal family, including Princess Anne, whose dog killed one of her favourite corgis on Monday.

Also present were the Earl and Countess of Wessex, who recently had a baby.

Norfolk estate

The Queen, who also had lesions removed from her face while in hospital two weeks ago, arrived at St Mary Magdalene Church with Sophie Wessex.

The Queen recording her message

The Countess's first child, Lady Louise, was delivered by emergency Caesarean section on 10 November.

Other members of the Royal Family walked to church across their Norfolk estate from nearby Sandringham House, where they are spending Christmas.

The Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Princes William and Harry were all at the service.

They were joined by the Duke of York, his daughters Princess Beatrice, 15, and Princess Eugenie, 13.

The Princess Royal was with her children Peter Phillips, 26, Zara Phillips, 22, and her husband Timothy Laurence.

Oldest and dearest

About 500 members of the public were outside the church to watch the Royal Family arrive.

Many were keen to see the Queen and the Princess Royal after Anne's English bull terrier Dotty savaged Pharos, one the of Queen's oldest and dearest pets.

British tourists in Sydney
British tourists Vaila Smith and Sandra Storoschuk enjoy a Christmas Day swim on Bondi Beach in Sydney
Sally Bowser, 50, from Boston, Lincolnshire, said: "It kind of takes the shine off Christmas for the Queen.

"I felt really sad for her because our cat died this year and it is like family really."


The Queen's traditional Christmas Day speech to the nation and Commonwealth will be broadcast at 1500 GMT.

It was recorded at an Army barracks in Windsor, the first time it has been shot entirely on location.

In clips released by Buckingham Palace, the Queen is seen talking to servicemen and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

In another first, a recording of the speech - which has the theme of teamwork - will be available over the telephone.

Troops serving around the world will be able to dial up on their mobile phones to listen to the address, in which the Queen pays tribute to the dedication of the armed forces.

Buckingham Palace says the Queen's purpose is to recognise the professionalism of the armed services in a year when so much has been asked of them and their families.

Internet speech

As is traditional, the speech will be screened on BBC One and ITV1 and aired on radio.

BBC News Online will broadcast the speech for internet users and also carry a text version.

The telephone line, on 0871 271 3100, will be open until 1500 GMT on Tuesday, 6 January.

The programme, produced for the BBC by Nick Vaughan-Barratt, will also be broadcast throughout the Commonwealth.

The BBC's Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
"As in previous years there has been a good turnout"

Queen reflects on joy and sadness
25 Dec 02  |  UK News
Queen's Christmas Message
22 Dec 03  |  UK

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