The Queen devotes ‘particularly personal’ Christmas message to the memory of Prince Philip

The Queen has given her blessing to a service of thanksgiving for the life of the Duke of Edinburgh, ahead of a “particularly personal” Christmas message devoted to his memory.

The Duke will be celebrated during a service at Westminster Abbey in the spring, bringing together family, friends and representatives of his many charities for a poignant moment of grieving and thanks.

The service, which will go ahead in accordance with Covid-19 guidance, is intended to help make up for the circumstances of the Duke’s funeral, where the Queen was photographed sitting alone in mourning and many of those who cared for him were unable to pay their respects in person.

Buckingham Palace has confirmed the Queen has agreed to the service, ahead of an annual Christmas message which is expected to be particularly poignant.

The Queen and Prince Philip during their honeymoon at Broadlands in 1947

Credit: AFP

A photograph of the Queen at the recording of the televised speech shows her wearing the same brooch she wore for her honeymoon photoshoot with Prince Philip, and again for their Diamond Wedding anniversary.

That picture of the couple taken to mark their Diamond Wedding, in which they gaze at one another fondly with an air of sharing a private joke, is seen on her desk.

Curiously, the brooch appears to be placed on the Queen’s opposite side to previous appearances, pinned to her right rather than her left.

A source said the change was simply a decision on the day, but admirers of the Queen will no doubt speculate it was a reference to the loss of the Duke of Edinburgh, just as some widows swap their wedding rings from left to right.

‘Particularly personal’

The speech, a source said, is expected to be “particularly personal” this year, as the Queen prepares to spend her first Christmas as a widow.

Filmed in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, the Queen is seen wearing an embossed wool shift dress in festive red, by her friend and designer Angela Kelly.

She accessorises with a sapphire chrysanthemum brooch, originally given to her during a royal engagement in 1946 when she launched an oil tanker named the ‘British Princess’.

She has worn it on many occasions since, from overseas visits to portraits with her children when they were young.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were photographed at Broadlands to mark their Diamond Wedding anniversary in 2007

Most poignantly, she chose it for a photocall on her 1947 honeymoon in Broadlands, the stately home in Hampshire.

This time, the Queen is seen in full festive mode, with a large Christmas tree sparkling behind her shoulder and warm lamps glowing on the fireplace behind.

The Queen’s speech will be broadcast at 3pm on Christmas Day as is traditional.

The Royal Family will not watch it at Sandringham this year, after Her Majesty called off plans to host them at the Norfolk estate for the second year running due to coronavirus.

Instead, she will spend the festive period at Windsor Castle. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will visit her on Christmas Day.

Princess Anne will not be celebrating Christmas Day with the Queen after her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, contracted Covid

Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The guest list is also expected to include the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their two children, as well as the Duke of York and his daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice if time and coronavirus restrictions allow.

The Princess Royal, who would ordinarily have been at her mother’s side, is unable to attend and is isolating after her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence contracted Covid-19.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be spending Christmas in Norfolk, a spokeswoman confirmed. They will be joined by some members of the Middleton family. 

Last year, the Queen used her Christmas broadcast to deliver a heartfelt message of hope to the country, praising the “indomitable spirit” of those who had risen “magnificently” to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are planning on celebrating Christmas in Norfolk

Credit: YUI MOK/AFP/Getty Images

This year, she is expected to reiterate the theme of unity to thank all those who have helped keep Britain going.

It has been a difficult 2021 for the Royal Family, after the Duke of Edinburgh died aged 99 in April, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex laid bare their grievances in an interview with Oprah, and Prince Andrew faced legal action following his strong denial of allegations of sexual assault.  

The Queen is likely to mention the new additions to the family, after she welcomed four new great-grandchildren: Princess Eugenie’s son August, Zara Tindall son Lucas, Princess Beatrice’s daughter Sienna, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s daughter Lilibet.

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