The Queen and Prince Philip were married for 73 years at the time of his death in April 2021—an entire lifetime together in the public eye. The Queen has said few words about his passing to the public, though the rest of the royals have shared many anecdotes about his mischievous side and his warmth in various statements and appearances throughout the year.
But during her annual Christmas day speech to the Commonwealth, with a photo of her and her husband in a frame on her desk, the Queen addressed the loss—and true to form, it was both politely reserved and sweetly moving. “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.”
She then spoke of her “beloved Philip” and what it meant to her to hear the many tributes devoted to him since his passing. “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,” she said.
Then she spent some time remarking on the qualities that many remember about the late Duke of Edinburgh: “His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation were all irrepressible.” She added (and get the tissues ready if you’ve made it this far without getting misty-eyed), “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.”
She continued by talking about the Christmas season, and her hopes that people stay safe amid the recent Covid surge, even as it means that Christmas can’t be quite a return to normalcy. She also paid tribute to Prince Philip’s environmental work, and how the torch of his activism is now being carried by their family:
“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.”
She closed by welcoming her new great-grandchildren to the world—Lilibet, Sienna, August, and Lucas—and offered a message of hope. ”For me and my family, even with one familiar laugh missing this year, there will be joy in Christmas.”
It’s been hailed as one of the Queen’s most personal Christmas speeches yet, which is perhaps unsurprising. She created a beautiful moment of reflection for her late husband, and for all those who lost loved ones this year.
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