Queen speaks of strength as Prince Philip recovers

The Queen spoke of the strength found amid challenging situations during her annual Christmas message this year.

The traditional royal broadcast was interspersed with shots of the aftermath of Christchurch's devastating February earthquake.

"It's in a crisis that communities break down barriers and combine together to help one another. Families, friends and communities are the source of courage rising up from within. Indeed sadly it seems that tragedy often draws out the best and the worst of the human spirit," the Queen said.

The message was recorded earlier this month before Prince Philip was hospitalised for treatment of a blocked coronary artery.

She spoke of her family's travel to Queensland earlier this year to see for themselves the devastation of the January floods.

"Prince William travelled to New Zealand and Australia to see the aftermath of earthquakes, cyclones and floods and saw how communities rose up to rescue the injured, comfort the bereaved and rebuild the cities and towns devastated by nature."

Dressed in festive red, the Queen also spoke of the resilience of the human spirit and of the significance of family, friends and community.

Meanwhile The Duke of Edinburgh was in "good spirits" after the Queen and his children visited him in hospital on Saturday as he recovered from heart surgery.

The 90-year-old, Britain's longest serving royal consort, was airlifted on Friday from the Sandringham estate where the royals were celebrating Christmas, and taken to hospital for an operation to unblock a coronary artery.

His four children - Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Princess Anne - joined the Queen at Prince Philip's bedside at Papworth Hospital near Cambridge in eastern England, Buckingham Palace said.

"The Duke of Edinburgh had a good night and is in good spirits but he is eager to leave," a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said on Saturday.

He was, however, set to remain in hospital under observation for a "short period", the palace said.

The prince will not attend the traditional Christmas Day church service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate, the palace announced, and reports suggested he could be kept in hospital for up to five days.

The health scare means Prince Philip is likely to miss much of the festivities at Sandringham, where Prince William's new wife Catherine was set to spend her first Christmas with the other royals.

He may also miss hosting his traditional Boxing Day shoot.

- AAP

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