Is Prince Philip at Sandringham with the Rest of the Royal Family?

Here's why you're not seeing him.

Event, Walking, Coat,
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Although Prince Philip, 97, joined the royal family for Christmas lunch (opens in new tab) at Buckingham Palace last week, he decided not to participate in the Christmas service at St. Mary Magdalene, a church on the Queen's Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

This is the first year we haven't seen the Duke of Edinburgh lead the annual walk (FYI, the Queen arrived by car (opens in new tab) as she usually does). There was speculation that Philip might meet the rest of the royal family inside the service where Prince George, 5, and Princess Charlotte, 3, are waiting for their parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the rest of the royal family. But now it's being reported that he's not there at all.

According to Buckingham Palace, there's no cause for alarm (opens in new tab), and he's just spending the holiday privately with the family. However, it's still a bit unusual for him to be missing such a big royal event. Prince Charles, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, and Prince William were all spotted on the walk in without him.

Royal reporter Rebecca English explained via Twitter, "The Duke of Edinburgh, 97, is not at church today. BP tell me there is no cause for concern and no illness. He’s retired from public life and will be spending the day privately with his family."

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Royals attends Christmas Day Church service

(Image credit: Joe Giddens - PA Images)

Fans began speculating about the Duke's Sandringham attendance when he didn't arrive with the Queen by train (opens in new tab) last Thursday as he has done in previous years. He retired early last year (opens in new tab) and in April he also had extensive hip surgery, which forced him to cancel several appearances including Easter service with the royal family and Prince Louis' christening. He did, however, attend his granddaughter Princess Eugenie's wedding (opens in new tab) in October.

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Rachel Epstein

Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.