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Britain's Prince Andrew skips traditional Christmas Day church walk

The royal stepped down from public duties after outrage over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein

Britain's Prince Andrewand Prince Charles arrive to attend a church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk. AP
Britain's Prince Andrewand Prince Charles arrive to attend a church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk. AP

Prince Andrew missed the British royals' traditional Christmas Day walk to church after what his mother Queen Elizabeth said in her annual address had been a "bumpy" year.

Andrew, the third son of the Queen, was seen attending an earlier service with his brother Prince Charles at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, eastern England.

The royal, whose official name is the Duke of York, stepped down from public duties last month following outrage over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew missed a more formal service later on Wednesday that was attended by the Queen, Prince William, his wife Catherine and two of their three children. Prince George, six and Princess Charlotte, four, attended for the first time.

Members of the royal family mingled with the crowd leaving the church.

Hours later the monarch's televised address was broadcast to the nation, where the Queen spoke about a chaotic year for Britain, which has been feuding over its split from the European Union.

She called 2019 "quite bumpy" and urged Britons to "overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions".

Aside from scandal-plagued Andrew, the royal family has faced other difficulties this year, including public squabbles between William and Prince Harry - the two children of the late Princess Diana - and battles with the tabloid press.

The Queen's husband Prince Philip spent four nights in King Edward VII Hospital for an unspecified medical condition.

He was able to check out of the London hospital to join the family for Christmas Eve.

But the 98-year-old has given up his royal duties and did not accompany the Queen for Christmas Day services.

Updated: December 25, 2019 10:54 PM

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