The Queen moves nation with 'beloved Philip' tribute in Christmas Day speech

The Duke of Edinburgh passed away in April, aged 99

The Queen paid a moving tribute to her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, as she delivered her annual Christmas message to the nation.

"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. "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."

Prince Philip passed away at the age of 99 on 9 April, with a socially-distanced funeral taking place eight days after his death at St George's Chapel in Windsor.

READ: Prince Charles and Camilla joined by the Wessexes and Gloucesters on Christmas Day - best photos

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WATCH: The Queen pays tribute to Prince Philip in Christmas speech

Her Majesty spoke lovingly about her late husband, adding: "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."

The Queen and Prince Philip's diamond wedding anniversary portrait

The Queen, 95, dressed in an embossed wool shift dress in Christmas red by Angela Kelly and the sapphire chrysanthemum brooch, spoke from the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle. 

The then Princess Elizabeth wore the chrysanthemum brooch for a photocall on her honeymoon with the Duke of Edinburgh, at Broadlands, Hampshire in 1947. Her Majesty also wore the brooch in photographs taken at the same venue to mark their diamond wedding anniversary. 

A single photograph was placed next to the monarch as she recorded her speech, which showed an official portrait of the Queen and Prince Philip taken in 2007 at Broadlands, Hampshire to mark their diamond wedding anniversary.

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Her Majesty also gave special mentions to the new additions to her family this year, as she has welcomed four great-grandchildren in the past 12 months. 

"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.

Princess Eugenie gave birth to her first child August in February, while Mike and Zara Tindall welcomed their third child, Lucas, in March. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced the arrival of daughter Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor in June, while Princess Beatrice had daughter, Sienna Mapelli Mozzi, in September.

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Prince Charles and Camilla attended church in Windsor on Christmas Day

The Queen has spent Christmas Day at Windsor Castle for the second year running due to the pandemic. She was joined by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on the day. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent the festive period at their country abode, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk this year with the Middleton family. 

The monarch traditionally spends Christmas with members of her family at her Sandringham estate, which sees the royals out in force as they attend church on 25 December, but plans were cancelled amid rising COVID-19 cases.

The Queen usually remains at her Norfolk abode until the anniversary of her father King George VI's death on 6 February, which in 2022, will mark the 70th year of her reign.  

The Queen's speech 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.

The Wessexes at the church service in Windsor

"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 seventy 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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