Nine million people tuned in to watch The Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day, making it the most-watched festive broadcast. A pre-speech leak had suggested that this year’s address would be a more personal affair than usual, and her majesty did not disappoint

As the Queen celebrated the first Christmas without her fun-loving husband of 73 years, she spoke of the importance of family and faith.

Queen Elizabeth II at Royal Ascot in 2010

Source: Alamy

She spoke of facing Christmas without her “beloved Philip” after his death in April at the age of 99, and the comfort she had drawn from the warm tributes to his life and work from around the globe.

“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 said. “This year, especially, I understand why…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. We felt his presence as we, like millions around the world, readied ourselves for Christmas.”

Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas plans changed at the last minute, reportedly due to rising COVID rates, although there have been concerns about her health this year, with various ailments leading to her missing several events. Despite opting to remain at Windsor Castle rather than heading to Sandringham, she was determined to mark the occasion well.

“While Covid again means we can’t celebrate quite as we may have wished, we can still enjoy the many happy traditions. 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.”

Focusing on the future

The Queen spoke of how Prince Philip had been committed to passing on the baton: “That’s why he created The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which offers young people throughout the Commonwealth and beyond the chance of exploration and adventure. It remains an astonishing success, grounded in his faith in the future.

The Queen and Prince Philip at Royal Ascot in 2010

Source: Alamy

“He 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.”

The UK’s longest-reigning monarch will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee in 2022, marking 70 years on the throne, which she hopes “will be an opportunity for people everywhere to enjoy a sense of togetherness, a chance to give thanks for the enormous changes of the last 70 years – social, scientific and cultural – and also to look ahead with confidence”.

A new beginning

The Queen concluded, as she so often does, by speaking about her faith: “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.

“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. It is this simplicity of the Christmas story that makes it so universally appealing. Simple happenings that formed the starting point of the life of Jesus; a man whose teachings have been handed down from generation to generation, and have been the bedrock of my faith. His birth marked a new beginning.”