Queen Elizabeth II gave her traditional Christmas Day speech Saturday, and this year it was a very personal one, framed around the life and death of her late husband of 73 years, Prince Philip.
Philip was present in many ways during the speech, from a photo on the queen’s desk, to the memories she shared — and even in the special brooch she wore pinned to her dress.
The ornate piece of jewelry, a stunning sapphire chrysanthemum brooch, is the same one she wore for a photo call for her honeymoon with Philip in 1947. The queen wore it again in 2007 to celebrate the couple’s 60th or diamond wedding anniversary.
The queen’s televised address is a longtime tradition, with the first having been given in 1932 by her father, King George VI, via radio. The queen gave this year’s speech from the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle and began by mentioning Philip’s absence.
“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,” she said.
Philip died in April at age 99 and until then, was the longest-serving consort in British history and the eldest member of the royal family.
The queen said in her speech that she has drawn comfort from the many tributes to Philip that have poured in from around the world. “His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation, were all irrepressible,” she said. “That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him.”
Elizabeth continued by saying that family traditions are at the heart of Christmas, and that even in Philip’s absence, and in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important for those traditions to carry on.
“Be it the 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, it’s no surprise that families so often treasure their Christmas routines. 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.”
Elizabeth said that Philip’s work will continue on through The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which recognizes young people across the Commonwealth for completing self-improvement exercises. She noted his work championing the environment and praised her son Charles and grandson William for taking the reins.
The rest of the speech was forward-looking, with Elizabeth mentioning all that England has to look forward to in 2022, including the Commonwealth Games and her Platinum Jubilee Year, which begins in February and recognizes the 70th anniversary since she ascended the throne.
The queen said she still found personal joy this Christmas, and that even through her loss, there was reason to celebrate.
“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.”
This is a reference to the new additions to the British royal family this year. The queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall had a son, and her other granddaughters, sisters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, also welcomed children. And of course Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, had a daughter, Lilibet Diana.
Elizabeth said that in the birth of a child, “there is a new dawn with endless potential.”