Queen Elizabeth acknowledges a “bumpy” year for the nation in her annual Christmas message in the wake of the U.K.’s Brexit crisis and Prince Andrew’s withdrawal from his public duties. “Small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding,” the queen says, adding, “The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.” Buckingham Palace on Monday released a preview of her 67th holiday message, which will be televised on Christmas Day. Prince Andrew announced last month that he will step back from his royal duties over his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Soon after the preview of the message was released, viewers picked up the notable absence of Meghan, Harry, and Archie among the collection of framed photos on the queen’s desk. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently disclosed their struggles with the British tabloids, which was featured in a documentary. “By being willing to put past differences behind us and move forward together, we honor the freedom and democracy once won for us at so great a cost,” the queen says.