The queen paid tribute to her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, in an emotional Christmas speech Saturday, saying that despite there being “one familiar laugh missing this year, there will be joy in Christmas.”
The queen’s comments came on a difficult Christmas Day for many families in the U.K., as COVID once again disrupted traditions (including Her Majesty’s) and forced many people to spend the day apart from their loved ones.
In her speech, 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.”
The queen also talked about the joy of “happy traditions” such as “singing of carols—as long as the tune is well known—decorating the tree, giving and receiving presents, or watching a favorite film where we already know the ending.”
She also paid tribute to her son and grandson saying: “[Philip] 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.”
A photograph of the couple on her desk, taken in 2007, showed the queen wearing the same sapphire brooch she was wearing on Saturday.
The queen herself was affected by the pandemic, spending Christmas at Windsor Castle instead of her country home, Sandringham, for the second year running.
There was a minor scare during the day when an armed 19-year-old man was arrested on the grounds of Windsor Castle on suspicion of trespass. He didn’t enter any buildings and members of the Royal Family were informed.
Meanwhile, the queen was joined at Windsor by Charles and Camilla, and Edward and Sophie, who were seen attending a morning church service at St. George’s Chapel, which is on the grounds of the castle.
The queen’s absence from the service is not believed to be due to ill health but merely to reflect an abundance of caution to protect her from the risk of getting COVID, as the service was attended by ticketed members of the public.
The Daily Mail reported that Camilla wore a blue and turquoise jacket and hat, and said “Happy Christmas” to waiting reporters as she walked into church.
A source told The Daily Beast that the embattled Prince Andrew and his children would likely be joining his mother for lunch at Windsor Castle, but he did not attend church with the family.
In another departure from tradition, Kate and William sent out a Christmas message, saying via social media that this year’s celebrations were “different to what so many of us had planned.” They said they were thinking of “those who are alone or having to isolate away from loved ones” and “the incredible people supporting our [National Health Service] and caring for those most in need.”
The Cambridges are spending Christmas at their home in Norfolk where they will be gathering with Kate’s family.
Kate has won plaudits after she played piano at a carol service Friday, to accompany a performance by singer Tom Walker.