The Queen has delivered her most moving Christmas message, paying a heartfelt tribute to her “beloved Philip” as she speaks of the comfort she has found in “passing the baton” of their values on to the next generations of their family.
In her first Christmas broadcast since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen spoke movingly of his “mischievous, enquiring twinkle”, his sense of service, intellect and irrepressible “capacity to squeeze the fun out of any situation”.
This year, she said, she understands especially how hard Christmas can be for those who have lost loved ones, describing life as consisting of “final partings as well as first meetings”.
Saying the Duke was “always mindful” of the importance of “passing the baton”, the Queen spoke of the “great happiness” she has found in seeing her own family “embrace the roles, traditions and values that mean so much to us”.
At the end of a year which has seen her compelled to take a step back from full public duties after a spell of ill health at the age of 95, she mentioned her two heirs and their wives by name to say she is “proud beyond words” to see how they have taken on the Duke’s pioneering work on the environment.
The Duke of Edinburgh enjoying a stroll with Princess Elizabeth in 1947, five years before she became Queen. She spoke movingly of his ‘mischievous, enquiring twinkle’
Credit: PA Wire
The emphasis on the Prince of Wales, the future king, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will not go unnoticed among royal watchers, with the three generations of the family working closer together this year than ever before.
The Queen is spending her second Christmas at Windsor Castle, having cancelled plans to host family at Sandringham due to the surge of the omicron strain of Covid-19.
Despite the virus again meaning “we can’t celebrate quite as we may have wished”, she urged the watching public to “still enjoy the many happy traditions” of the festive season just as children find the “joy in simple things”.
Celebrating family and her great-grandchildren
The message is the Queen’s most moving and personal to date, following a difficult year for the Royal Family.
The broadcast, filmed in the White Drawing Room at Windsor, saw the Duke of Edinburgh take centre stage in photographs, with the Queen wearing her sapphire chrysanthemum brooch she also wore in their honeymoon and Diamond wedding anniversary pictures.
It opened with footage from the Queen’s 1997 Golden Wedding Anniversary speech, in which she called him “my strength and stay all these years”.
In the pre-recorded Christmas message, the Queen spoke fondly of her family, mentioning the four new great-grandchildren born this year, but did not name the Duke of York or Duke and Duchess of Sussex who have departed from the working Royal family.
The Queen spent her Christmas with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, seen here earlier at Christmas Day church service in Windsor
Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
In her most fulsome tribute to her late husband, the Queen said: “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.
“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.
“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. We felt his presence as we, like millions around the world, readied ourselves for Christmas.
“While Covid again means we can’t celebrate quite as we may have wished, we can still enjoy the many happy traditions.”
‘Passing the baton’
Of the Christmas rituals she treasures, along with many in Britain and the Commonwealth, she said: “We see our own children and their families embrace the roles, traditions and values that mean so much to us, as these are passed from one generation to the next, sometimes being updated for changing times.
“I see it in my own family and it is a source of great happiness. Prince Philip was always mindful of this sense of passing the baton.”
Referencing the “astonishing success” of his Duke of Edinburgh Awards, she added: “He was also an early champion of taking seriously our stewardship of the environment, and I am proud beyond words that his pioneering work has been taken on and magnified by our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William – admirably supported by Camilla and Catherine – most recently at the Cop climate change summit in Glasgow.”
The Queen spoke of the astonishing success of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, with Prince Philip seen here attending the presentation ceremony for the Gold Award holders in 2010
Credit: Danny Lawson – WPA Pool/Getty Images
In a reflection of her own deep personal faith, the Queen spoke of the “simplicity of the Christmas story” and the birth of a child as a “new dawn with endless potential”.
She said: “I am sure someone somewhere today will remark that Christmas is a time for children. It’s an engaging truth, but only half the story.
“Perhaps it’s truer to say that Christmas can speak to the child within us all. Adults, when weighed down with worries, sometimes fail to see the joy in simple things, where children do not.
“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.
“They teach us all a lesson, just as the Christmas story does, that in the birth of a child, there is a new dawn with endless potential.”
Looking ahead to Platinum Jubilee
The Queen also looked forward to 2022, and the start of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations in February.
She hopes, she said, they “will be an opportunity for people everywhere to enjoy a sense of togetherness, a chance to give thanks for the enormous changes of the last 70 years– social, scientific and cultural – and also to look ahead with confidence”.
The Queen’s own Christmas Day was spent in Windsor, where she was joined by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
The Cambridge family were in Norfolk, joined by the Middletons, while the Princess Royal was isolating with her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, who has Covid.