Prince Philip attended a new year's day church service on Sunday, walking the short distance to the building in his first public appearance after a Christmas health scare.

Philip, Britain's longest-serving consort, spent four nights in hospital - missing the royal family's Christmas celebrations - after suffering chest pains on December 23.

He had an operation to ease a blocked heart artery - a minor procedure which does not require a general anaesthetic - and left the Papworth hospital near Cambridge on Tuesday.

Television footage from the royal Sandringham estate showed Philip smiling and walking comfortably to and from the St Mary Magdalene church on a mild winter morning, flanked by a small crowd of well-wishers.

Commentators have suggested that Philip, who has been in robust health in recent years, may have to scale back his official duties following the health scare.

The Queen, who married Philip in 1947, faces a hectic year in 2012 as she celebrates her 60th year on the throne. She is scheduled to make an extensive tour of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

(Reporting by Matt Falloon; Editing by Andrew Heavens)