Sad Christmas for Queen Elizabeth

12/26/2003 11:31AM

It was not the happiest of holidays for Queen Elizabeth, who joined other members of the royal family Thursday at Christmas services in her first public appearance since undergoing surgery on her face and knee, according to British press reports.

Besides the surgery (which prevented the 77-year-old monarch from knighting Mick Jagger at his investiture at Buckingham Palace earlier this month and forced her to walk with a cane), one of her beloved corgis, Pharos, was killed by Dottie, an English bull terrier belonging to the queen's daughter, Princess Anne.

Dottie reportedly attacked Pharos after Anne arrived at Sandringham Castle (in Norfolk) for Christmas. As Reuters noted, this wasn't Dottie's first demonstration of a violent nature. Last year, Princess Anne, now 53, was ordered to pay nearly $900 in fines and get training for her pet after the dog bit two boys in a London park.

Still, Queen Elizabeth, who was operated on Dec. 12 to remove cartilage from her knee and also had some benign facial lesions removed, put forth a stiff upper lip for her annual Christmas address, in which she paid tribute to British soldiers in Iraq. "We all have very good reasons for feeling proud of their achievements," she said.

In a departure from her usual practice, the Queen delivered her televised speech from an army base in Windsor, west of London.

Among the points she made: "None of this can be achieved without paying a price. I know that all our thoughts at this time are with the families who are suffering the pain of bereavement. All those who have recently lost a close relative or friend will know how difficult Christmas can be."

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