The separation of the pandemic has made people realise “how much we need each other”, the Duchess of Cambridge has said in a festive message celebrating Britain’s kindness and goodwill.
The Duchess, speaking ahead of the broadcast of her Westminster Abbey carol concert for community heroes, said she feels a “huge debt of gratitude” to all those who have helped one another through lockdown.
Her message was released as it was announced that the Princess Royal will not be able to spend Christmas with the Queen.
The Princess’s husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, tested positive for Covid earlier this week and the couple will self-isolate at home rather than travelling to Windsor Castle.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, have not confirmed where they will be spending Christmas.
But the Duchess spoke about the difficulties of being separated from loved ones in the pandemic.
The carol concert was recorded earlier this month and will be broadcast on ITV on Christmas Eve
Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
She said: “We’ve been through such a bleak time. We’ve seen so many challenges. We’ve lost our loved ones. We’ve seen our frontline workers under immense pressure, and also we’ve been more emotionally and socially distanced and isolated from each other.
“But I suppose, through that separation, we’ve also realised how much we need each other and how acts of kindness and love can really bring us comfort and relief in times of distress.”
She added that music had been “so important” to her in getting through lockdown as she introduced a night of carols with performances from Ellie Goulding, Tom Walker and Leona Lewis.
The concert, which was recorded earlier this month and will be broadcast on ITV on Christmas Eve, saw 1,200 guests invited to join the congregation by the Duchess in recognition of their contributions to charity, their communities and the country.
In a filmed introduction, the Duchess said she was “so excited” to be hosting the event, called Together at Christmas, in a place that is “really special to William and me” as their wedding venue.
“We wanted to say a huge thank you to all those amazing people out there who have supported their communities. We also wanted to recognise those whose struggles perhaps have been less visible too.”
Speaking to the “many inspirational individuals” in the congregation, she added: “We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for all they’ve done in bringing people together and supporting their communities.”
The Duchess said that music had been 'so important' to her in getting through lockdown
Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Weeks after her husband disclosed his unexpected love of AC/DC and Shakira, the Duchess added: “Music was so important to me during the pandemic, as I think it was to so many people too.
“But above all it’s about celebrating the goodwill, the acts of kindness, love, empathy and compassion to help people come through these difficult times.”
The message was recorded at the Abbey ahead of the service after the Duchess arrived to help decorate Christmas trees donated by the Queen from Windsor Great Park and arrange wreaths from the Royal Horticultural Society.
The congregation was made up of guests from charities which have the Queen, Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall or the Cambridges as patrons, as well as young carers, faith leaders, military servicemen and women and those who have struggled with illness or isolation during lockdown.
Earlier this week, it was announced that the Queen would spend her first Christmas without her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Windsor.
The monarch usually hosts her family at Sandringham, in Norfolk, where crowds of wellwishers traditionally gather on Christmas Day to watch the royals walk to church on the Sandringham estate. However, she called off the visit amid concern over rising Covid cases.
She also cancelled her traditional pre-Christmas lunch for extended family. A source said she felt holding the gathering could put too many people’s Christmas plans at risk.
The Queen will remain at Windsor as a “precautionary” measure for the second year running. The Palace has not confirmed which other members of the family will join her but the Earl and Countess of Wessex, who live nearby, are expected to visit on Christmas Day, along with their children, Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn.
Royal Carols: Together At Christmas will be broadcast at 7.30pm on Christmas Eve on ITV