Britain's royal family attends Christmas services without Prince William, Kate, Prince Harry

Queen Elizabeth II receives flowers from children after attending the British royal family's traditional Christmas Day church service in Sandringham, England, on Dec. 25, 2012. AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Britain's royal family attended Christmas Day church services on Tuesday -- with a few notable absences.

Queen Elizabeth II, wearing a turquoise coat and matching hat, arrived at St. Mary Magdelene Church on her sprawling Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, after recovering from a cold that had prevented her from attending a church service on Sunday. She was accompanied in a Bentley by granddaughters Beatrice and Eugenie.

Her husband, Prince Philip, walked from the house to the church with other members of the royal family, including Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, Zara Phillips and husband Mike Tindall, Prince Andrew, Peter and Autumn Phillips and Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

According to the BBC, the queen was greeted by about 1,000 well-wishers as she arrived at the church.

Three familiar faces were missing from the family outing. Prince William is spending the holiday with his pregnant wife, Kate, and her family, the Middletons, in the southern England village of Bucklebury. His brother, Prince Harry, is serving with British troops in Afghanistan.

William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were photographed arriving at St. Mark's Church in Englefield on Tuesday morning. The Daily Mail reports that they were joined by members of the Middleton family including Kate's parents, Carole and Michael, and siblings Pippa and James.

Later Tuesday, the queen hailed the holidays in a new dimension, delivering her Christmas messagefor the first time in 3D.

In the annual, prerecorded broadcast, the monarch paid tribute to the armed forces, "whose sense of duty takes them away from family and friends" over the holidays, and expressed gratitude for the outpouring of enthusiasm for her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The queen said she was struck by the "strength of fellowship and friendship" shown by well-wishers to mark her 60 years on the throne.

"It was humbling that so many chose to mark the anniversary of a duty which passed to me 60 years ago," she said as footage showed crowds lining the Thames River in the rain earlier this year for a boat pageant. "People of all ages took the trouble to take part in various ways and in many nations."

The queen also reflected on this year's "splendid summer of sport" as Britain hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games, praising the "skill, dedication, training and teamwork of our athletes" and singling out the volunteers who devoted themselves "to keeping others safe, supported and comforted."

Comments