The queen shared her sympathies for “those who have lost loved ones” as she celebrated her first Christmas since Prince Philip’s death.
In her annual speech, the 95-year-old monarch paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, who died at the age of 99 in April of this year.
“Her sense of service, intellectual curiosity, and the ability to squeeze the fun out of any situation – they were all unstoppable,” she said. “That mischievous, inquiring twinkle was as brilliant at the end as when I first saw it.
“But life, of course, is all about final separations and first encounters – and as much as I and my family miss him, I know he would like us to enjoy Christmas.”
For the second year in a row, the Queen has canceled the usual Sandringham festivities and is instead in Windsor, where she and the Duke spent her last Christmas last year.
Watch the Queen’s Christmas 2021 speech in full below …
“Although it is a time of great happiness and good cheer for many, Christmas can be difficult for those who have lost loved ones.
“This year, above all, I understood why.
“But for me, in the months that have passed 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 all over the country, from the Commonwealth and from the world.
“Her sense of service, intellectual curiosity and ability to squeeze the fun out of any situation were all unstoppable.
“That mischievous, inquiring sparkle was ultimately as bright as it was when I first saw it.
“But life, of course, is all about final separations and first encounters – and as much as my family and I miss her, I know she would like us to enjoy Christmas.
“We felt his presence as we, like millions around the world, got ready for Christmas.
“Even if Covid means again that we can’t celebrate as we would like, we can still enjoy the many happy traditions.
“Whether it’s singing carols – as long as the tune is well known – decorating the tree, giving and receiving gifts, or watching a favorite movie that we already know the ending of, it’s no surprise that families so often enjoy their Christmas routines.
“We see our children and their families embracing the roles, traditions and values that mean so much to us, as these are passed on from generation to generation, sometimes updated for changing times.
“I see it in my own family and it is a source of great happiness.
“Prince Philip has always been attentive to this sense of passing the baton.
“That’s why he created the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which offers young people from across the Commonwealth and beyond the chance to explore and adventure.
“It remains a surprising success, based on its faith in the future.
“He was also one of the first champions in taking our stewardship of the environment seriously, 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.
“Next summer, we look forward to the Commonwealth Games.
“The witness is currently traveling the length and breadth of the Commonwealth, heading to Birmingham, a beacon of hope on his journey.
“It will be an occasion to celebrate the achievements of the athletes and the meeting of like-minded nations.
“And February, just six weeks from now, will see the start of my Platinum Jubilee year, which I hope is an opportunity for people around the world to enjoy a sense of unity, an opportunity to give thanks for the enormous changes of the last 70 years – social, scientific and cultural – and also to look forward with confidence.
“I’m sure someone somewhere today will observe that Christmas is a time for children.
“It’s a compelling truth, but only half the story.
“Perhaps it is truer to say that Christmas can speak to the child in us all.
“Adults, when burdened with worries, sometimes fail to see joy in simple things, while children do not.
“And for me and my family, even if this year is missing a familiar laugh, there will be joy in Christmas, as we will have the opportunity to remember and see again the wonder of the holiday season through the eyes of our children, of whom we are were delighted to welcome four more this year.
“They teach us a lesson – just like the Christmas story does – that in the birth of a child there is a new dawn with infinite potential.
“It is this simplicity of the Christmas story that makes it so universally appealing, the simple events that formed the starting point of the life of Jesus, a man whose teachings were handed down from generation to generation and were the foundation of the my faith.
“His birth marked a new beginning.
“As the song goes: ‘The hopes and fears of all years are fulfilled in you tonight.’
“I wish you all a happy Christmas.”