As family gathers around, the Duke of Edinburgh is said to be in "good spirits"

By Simon Perry
Updated December 24, 2011 09:30 AM
Credit: Oli Scarff/Getty

Queen Elizabeth visited her husband Prince Philip in hospital on Saturday morning as he recovered from emergency surgery.

The Queen, 85, was joined by her children, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, for the 45-minute visit to Papworth hospital in Cambridge, where the 90-year-old Duke was airlifted by helicopter late Friday. He had been suffering from chest pains and was later found to have a blocked artery, which was treated by coronary stenting. Prince Harry and Prince William are not expected to visit.

Early Saturday, Buckingham Palace officials issued an update, saying he had had a “good night” following his procedure and that he was in “good spirits.”

After the Queen’s visit, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, dropped by the hospital. They had driven up from their country home, Highgrove, in Gloucestershire, and are headed to the Queen’s winter retreat of Sandringham House, where the family traditionally gathers for Christmas.

Annual Christmas Address

Poignantly, as the royals gather around the ill duke, the Queen is set to talk about the importance of family in her annual Christmas address to the U.K and Commonwealth.

“Family does not necessarily mean blood relatives but often a description of a community, organization or nation. The Commonwealth is a family of 53 nations, all with a common bond, shared beliefs, mutual values and goals,” she will say in the film that will be broadcast on Sunday morning.

It was recorded on Dec. 9, and will see the Queen look back on a year in which two of her grandchildren – Prince William and Zara Phillipswed; her husband turned 90; and she visited Ireland for the first time. Next year marks her 60th on the throne.

Later on Christmas Eve, the royals are due to exchange their presents – following a German tradition of doing so the night before Christmas Day.

But the event is undoubtedly going to be overshadowed by the fact that the patriarch of the family will likely be missing.