The royals draw a large crowd while attending a Christmas service

By Simon Perry
Updated December 25, 2011 09:05 AM
Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined Queen Elizabeth at church for two services on Christmas morning – and they drew quite the crowd eager to see them.

With many watching, the couple walked to and from church with much of their family. The Queen, however, took a car to the services – just a short drive from her home at Sandringham, Norfolk. Key in her family’s thoughts and prayers: Prince Philip, who is still in the hospital after undergoing emergency surgery on Friday.

William and Kate were joined on the walk to the 16th century St. Mary Magdalene Church by Prince Charles; William’s cousins Princess Beatrice and Eugenie; and newlyweds Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall. Kate, in an aubergine-colored coat by an unnamed British designer and hat by Jane Corbett, was flanked by husband William, 29, and her brother-in-law Prince Harry, 27.

This is the first time Kate, 29, has spent Christmas with the royal family – a fact that likely boosted the number of people who came out to watch from the sidelines.

The 11 a.m. service, which begun with a rendition of the national anthem, was the second visit to the church for senior members of the family, who privately attended the communion service at 9 a.m.

After nearly 40 minutes, the family emerged again to greet well-wishers. Kate chatted with some children, and Beatrice was seen with armfuls of flowers. The Queen was overwhelmed with bouquets from royals fans.

The royals are set to have a traditional turkey lunch – then watch the Queen’s speech.

And, in the mid-afternoon, members of the family, including Prince William, paid Prince Philip a 45-minute visit at the hospital. A spokesman for Buckingham Palace tells PEOPLE, “The Duke of Edinburgh was visited by some of his grandchildren at Papworth hospital this afternoon: The Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall.” The spokesman added that Duke is in “good spirits” and “will remain in hospital under observation for a short period.”

The grandchildren’s visit comes a day after the Queen went to his bedside Saturday.