While Queen Elizabeth II’s Christmas celebration may have looked different from years past, one tradition endured — her annual Christmas Day televised speech.
“Although it’s a time of great happiness and good cheer for many, Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones. This year, especially, I understand why,” Elizabeth, 95, explained in her annual broadcast, which aired on Saturday, December 25. “But for me, in the months since the death of my beloved Philip, I have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes to his life and work – from around the country, the Commonwealth and the world.”
She continued: “His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation – were all irrepressible. That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him. But life, of course, consists of final partings as well as first meetings; and as much as I and my family miss him, I know he would want us to enjoy Christmas.”
As the queen paid tribute to the late royal’s legacy, she noted how the holidays wouldn’t be the same without his joyful presence.
“And for me and my family, even with one familiar laugh missing this year, there will be joy in Christmas, as we have the chance to reminisce, and see anew the wonder of the festive season through the eyes of our young children, of whom we were delighted to welcome four more this year,” the queen said.
She further honored her late spouse with her sartorial choices, donning the same sapphire chrysanthemum brooch that she wore during her honeymoon with Philip in 1947. The queen also sat beside a photo from the pair’s 70th wedding anniversary in 2007.
Us Weekly confirmed earlier this month that the queen would not travel to Sandringham House for the merry holiday, instead she’s staying at Windsor Castle for a small gathering of her family members. Prince William, Duchess Kate, Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward all gathered alongside her to celebrate. However, daughter Princess Anne was notably absent after her husband, Sir Timothy Laurence, tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
During last year’s festive holiday, the sovereign spent the occasion at Windsor Castle with late husband Prince Philip — who died in April at age 99 — amid the country’s lockdown.
“Having considered all the appropriate advice, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed in December 2020.
While the married couple had a low-key celebration, she used her annual broadcast to share hopeful messages for the coming year.
“Every year we herald the coming of Christmas by turning on the lights. And light does more than create a festive mood —light brings hope,” the queen shared in her speech last year. “Remarkably, a year that has necessarily kept people apart has, in many ways, brought us closer. Across the Commonwealth, my family and I have been inspired by stories of people volunteering in their communities, helping those in need. In the United Kingdom and around the world, people have risen magnificently to the challenges of the year, and I am so proud and moved by this quiet, indomitable spirit. To our young people in particular I say thank you for the part you have played.”
She added at the time: “Of course, for many, this time of year will be tinged with sadness: some mourning the loss of those dear to them, and others missing friends and family-members distanced for safety, when all they’d really want for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand. If you are among them, you are not alone, and let me assure you of my thoughts and prayers. … It is in that spirit that I wish you a very happy Christmas.”
The royal family has plenty of special Christmas traditions, including a gathering at Sandringham, a lunchtime party and a walk to church that morning.
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