Queen Elizabeth Delivers Her Most Personal Christmas Speech Ever as She Mourns Prince Philip

"That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him," the Queen said in her speech on Christmas Day

Queen's Christmas Day broadcast
Queen Elizabeth's 2021 Christmas speech . Photo: Victoria Jones/getty

As Queen Elizabeth reaches the end of a momentous and bittersweet year, her annual Christmas Day message has struck a deeply personal tone.

The broadcast of the speech, which was filmed earlier this month in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, began with an excerpt of a speech the Queen gave to Prince Philip on their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997.

"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 in her speech on Saturday, which comes eight months after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99.

"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," she continued. "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, who canceled the royal family's traditional Christmas gathering at Sandringham this year amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, admitted that the family "can't celebrate as they may have wished."

<a href="https://people.com/tag/queen-elizabeth/" data-inlink="true">Queen Elizabeth</a> II and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured 1/6/2020 in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th birthday on Wednesday.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty

"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," she said. "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."

The Queen made another personal nod in her speech when she mentioned the birth of four new great-grandchildren this year: Princess Eugenie's son August, who was born in February; Zara Tindall's son Lucas, who was born in March; Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's daughter Lili, who was born in June; and Princess Beatrice's daughter Sienna, who was born in September.

"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," she said.

"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."

Married Couple
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day. Hulton Archive/Getty

The Queen continued to praise Philip's legacy, which includes The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and his environmental work. She said his causes will continue to be championed by Prince Charles and Prince William.

"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 Queen said.

She also mentioned her upcoming Jubilee year, which marks her record-breaking 70 years on the throne.

"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 seventy years - social, scientific and cultural - and also to look ahead with confidence," she said.

She concluded her speech, "I wish you all a very happy Christmas."

The Queen also paid tribute to her late husband by placing a single framed photo atop her desk from 2007 when the couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary at Broadlands Country House in Hampshire.

<a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-philip/" data-inlink="true">Prince Philip</a> and <a href="https://people.com/tag/queen-elizabeth/" data-inlink="true">Queen Elizabeth</a> smile at one another while walking arm-in-arm outside.
Topical Press Agency/Getty

And on her Christmas red embossed wool shift dress by Angela Kelly, she had pinned the sapphire chrysanthemum brooch she wore on a honeymoon photo call at Broadlands in 1947 and then again 60 years later as they celebrated their landmark 60th anniversary at the same location.

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Behind the Queen, a Christmas tree "was decorated with over 100 white and gold stars which were specially made by the children and staff of The Royal School, Windsor," according to a release from the palace. "Following the recording of The Queen's Christmas message, the stars were returned to the school where they were hung on the pupils' Christmas tree until the end of term when they took them home as presents for their parents and carers."

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