PA, Lewis Whyld) UNITED KINGDOM OUT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE, Associated Press
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, right, and her son Prince Edward make their way to the royal helicopter as they leave Papworth Hospital after visiting Prince Philip, in Cambridge, England, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011. Philip, 90, was taken to the hospital from the queen's Sandringham estate in Norfolk late Friday after experiencing chest pains. He had a coronary stent put in after tests found a blocked artery was to blame, though the palace has refused to say if he suffered a heart attack.

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II has stressed the importance of family and friendship in her annual, pre-recorded Christmas message to the nation.

The theme of her broadcast was especially poignant Sunday as Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, remained in hospital recovering from a heart procedure. The message was recorded Dec. 9, before he was hospitalized.

Wearing a festive red dress, the Queen said that the importance of family was driven home by the marriages of two of her grandchildren this year.

She spoke of the strength family can provide during times of hardship and how friendships are often formed in difficult times.

Elizabeth pointed to the Commonwealth nations as an example that family "does not necessarily mean blood relatives but often a description of a community."