Queen’s Christmas speech: Monarch misses Philip’s ‘familiar laugh’ – read in full



The Queen has used her Christmas message to pay an extraordinary personal tribute to Prince Philip, reflecting on how there would be “one familiar laugh missing” from her family gathering this year.

In her most heartfelt speech since the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing in April at the age of 99, the monarch revealed her heartbreak at the loss of her beloved husband of 73 years, and reminisced how his “mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him”.

After a year marred by personal grief, the Queen told how her anguish had drawn her closer to those who also lost loved ones amid the global pandemic.

Millions who tuned in at 3pm today witnessed the 95-year-old sovereign’s Christmas broadcast begin with footage from 1997 and a heart-warming speech she made describing Philip as “my strength and stay all these years”.

Her Majesty made an emotional tribute to her husband
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At Windsor Castle, the Queen sat behind a desk adorned with a solitary photograph of herself and Philip taken in 2007 to mark their 60th wedding anniversary, recreating a tender image from their honeymoon in 1947.

She said: “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.”

The Queen also remarked on how her darkest days were emboldened by the numerous tributes to Prince Philip that flowed in from around the world following his passing, and how their loving bond was as bright throughout their 73 years of marriage.

She 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’s Christmas tree
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Prince Philip died this year aged 99
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“We felt his presence as we, like millions around the world, readied ourselves for Christmas.”

The Queen was forced to alter her plans for Christmas due to surging Covid rates across the country.

Senior royals including Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, who today joined the Queen at Windsor Castle, all agreed to isolate from last week to ensure the 95-year-old sovereign was not left alone after she cancelled her planned trip to Sandringham in Norfolk.

Painting a familiar portrait of Christmas for many families, the Queen said her loved ones also enjoyed typical traditions such as “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.”

Her Majesty spoke fondly of her eldest son, the Prince of Wales, his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, and of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, for carrying on the traditions with their own families, as well as her heirs embracing the challenge of climate change which “is a source of great happiness.”

But there was no reference – either on screen or by name during the nine-minute broadcast at 3pm today – to her middle son, Prince Andrew, nor the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the trio having stepped back from royal duties.

There was, however, tacit mention of Lilibet, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s daughter, as one of four great-grandchildren born in 2021.

Her Majesty complimented Prince Philip’s “astonishing success” in creating the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which has given millions of young people across the UK and the Commonwealth “the chance of exploration and adventure”.

The Singology Community Choir performed during the Queen’s address
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Fresh from her extraordinary piano duet alongside singer Tom Walker for her carol concert at Westminster Abbey which aired on Christmas Eve, the Duchess of Cambridge today joined husband Prince William to say they were thinking of people who are spending Christmas alone this year.

In a tweet, the couple said: “This Christmas will be different to what so many of us had planned. From those who are alone or having to isolate away from loved ones, to the incredible people supporting our NHS and caring for those most in need – we are thinking of you. W & C.”

Known to be in her element when she has any number of her 12 great-grandchildren by her side, the Queen also remarked how the festive period is a time that “speaks to the child within us all”.

She added: “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.”

Looking ahead, the Queen spoke of her excitement for next summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham which would “be a chance to celebrate the achievements of athletes and the coming-together of like-minded nations.”

And after a year so often marred by uncertainty, the Queen said she hoped a year of celebrations for her record breaking Platinum Jubilee – which will begin on February 6 when she will mark 70 years on the throne – would “be an opportunity for people everywhere to enjoy a sense of togetherness; a chance to give thanks for the enormous changes of the last seventy years – social, scientific and cultural – and also to look ahead with confidence”.

Brits will also enjoy an extra bank holiday in June as the nation comes together for more celebrations.

A royal source said: “After an extraordinary year for so many, the Queen is hopeful of better times ahead for everyone.”

Children of the The Royal School, Windsor made 100 white and gold stars
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Here is the Queen’s message, which she penned herself, in full…

“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.

“But for me, in the months 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 around the country, the Commonwealth and the world.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“Prince Philip was always mindful of this sense of passing 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.

“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.

“Next summer, we look forward to the Commonwealth Games.

“The baton is currently travelling the length and breadth of the Commonwealth, heading towards Birmingham, a beacon of hope on its journey.

“It will be a chance to celebrate the achievements of athletes and the coming-together of like-minded nations.

“And 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, 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.

“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.

“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.

“As the carol says: ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.’

“I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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