In what was arguably her most personal Christmas speech, the monarch paid tribute to her late husband, who died in April at age 99. Seated in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, with a sole photo of her and Philip behind her, the Queen was seen wearing a sapphire brooch, the same accessory she wore during their honeymoon photocall in 1947—and to celebrate several of their wedding anniversaries.
"Although it's a time of great happiness and good cheer for many, Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones," she began. "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," she continued. "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."
And while the holiday looks different this year amid rising COVID cases—she canceled the family's annual gathering at her Sandringham estate—the 95-year-old is still embracing the season.
"Be it the singing of carols (as long as the tune is well known); decorating the tree; giving and receiving presents; or watching a favourite film where we already know the ending, it's no surprise that families so often treasure their Christmas routines," she shared 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."
She went on to praise Prince Charles, Prince William, Camila, Duchess of Cornwall and Kate Middleton for carrying on her husband's legacy at the climate change summit in Glasgow—then shouted out her four new great-grandchildren. (That would be Princess Eugenie's son August, Zara Tindall's son Lucas, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's daughter Lili and Princess Beatrice's daughter Sienna.)
"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," the Queen concluded. "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...As the carol says, 'The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.' I wish you all a very happy Christmas."