Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visit Middle Temple on October 8, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Maria Puente, USA TODAY
This year's royal Christmas breaks with all sorts of traditions: Will and Kate are celebrating with her family instead of with the royal family. Queen Elizabeth II had to skip Sunday service to cope with a cold, which almost never happens. And she will appear in 3D for the first time for her annual Christmas Day broadcast on Tuesday.
Prince William and pregnant Duchess Kate, who's been struggling with morning sickness so acute she had to be hospitalized, will spend Christmas privately with the Middletons at their estate in Bucklebury, the palace said, instead of joining the royals for their traditional holiday gathering at Sandringham in Norfolk.
The Telegraph and other British media reported that the former Kate Middleton is doing better but wanted to spend her last Christmas before the baby is born next summer closer to her family and her doctors.
They spent Christmas 2011 with the royal family, her first, and the palace said the couple plan to join the family at some point during the holidays. And Prince Harry won't be with the family either; the Army helicopter pilot is serving in Afghanistan and plans to phone home on Christmas.
Meanwhile, up at Sandringham, it was just the queen's husband, Prince Philip, 91, and the York family, his son Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and his granddaughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, caught by the cameras on their traditional stroll to services at the church near the estate.
The queen, 86, was fighting the remnants of a cold, the palace said, and stayed home, a rarity for the monarch who's usually in blooming health. But she will be well enough to attend the Christmas Day services, the palace said. Last year it was Philip who suffered a cardiac episode at Sandringham and had to be rushed to the hospital for an emergency stent.
Before leaving for Norfolk, the queen taped her Christmas message, this time to be broadcast in 3D for the first time. The palace even allowed amusing pictures of her watching clips of the speech wearing her fancy pair of 3D glasses.
The annual speech is important because it is her Diamond Jubilee year, and because it is her own words, the only public address she ever makes that is not written or edited by the government. This year, after the jubilee celebrations, the successful 2012 Olympics in London, and the news of the duchess' pregnancy, she has a lot to talk about: a "summer full of excitement and drama," she says in the speech, according to the Telegraph.