The Queen pays heartbreaking tribute to 'beloved' Philip in Christmas speech

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The Queen has delivered one of the most personal addresses of her long reign after a year marked by loss for her personally and the country at large.

She used her Christmas address to acknowledge the grief of families across the country robbed of loved ones by Covid-19.

The Queen spoke warmly about Prince Philip on her first Christmas without him in seven decades, saying there was ‘one familiar laugh missing’ in her home.

Sitting behind a desk adorned with a picture of the couple on their 60th wedding anniversary,  she acknowledged the festive period ‘can be hard for those who have lost loved ones’, adding: ‘This year, especially, I understand why.’

She rarely speaks so openly about personal matters openly in public and her comments on her ‘beloved’ Philip are her most candid since his death in April.

The Queen said: ‘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 wore the same sapphire chrysanthemum brooch she took on their honeymoon in 1947.

She recognised the impact that the winter wave of coronavirus infections is having on people’s plans, having personally decided to scale back the Royal Family’s usual celebrations.

The Queen scrapped arrangements for a large gathering at Sandringham and is spending the day at Windsor with Prince Charles and Camilla instead, while Princess Anne is self-isolating after her husband tested positive for Covid-19.

Since spending a night in hospital for tests and suffering a sprained back, the 95-year-old monarch has taken a precautionary approach to public duties, opting not to attend a church service this morning.

She made no reference to Prince Andrew or Prince Harry, two sources of discomfort throughout a trying year for the monarchy. 

The Queen, whose speech was recorded in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle and written alone, said: ‘While Covid again means we can’t celebrate quite as we may have wished, we can still enjoy the many happy traditions.’

She added: ‘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.’

The Queen also hinted at the prospect of reuniting with loved ones in the new year.

She said: ‘February, just six weeks from now, will see the start of my Platinum Jubilee year, which I hope will be an opportunity for people everywhere to enjoy a sense of togetherness … and also to look ahead with confidence.’

Months after urging world leaders to take action on climate change at Cop26 in Glasgow, the Queen also paid tribute to three generations of her own family for raising awareness about the environment. 

She concluded by speaking about the religious significance of Christmas to her personally and how the birth of Jesus had provided the ‘bedrock of my faith’.

The Queen quoted a poignant line from the carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ (‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight’), and ended simply by saying: ‘I wish you all a very happy Christmas.’

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