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Queen Elizabeth II made dozens of Christmas speeches during her 70-year-reign, but her last one – made in 2021 after the death of her husband Prince Philip – was likely one of her most personal.
The late monarch made a speech nearly every year of her reign, which were broadcast nationally on Christmas Day.
Throughout the years, the queen used the annual tradition to talk about holiday themes like love, charity and family and to give people hope during times of war and strife. In 2020, she spoke about the coronavirus, honoring health care workers and saying people had “risen magnificently to the challenges” caused by the pandemic.
However, last Christmas, she related her own heartbreak after losing her husband of 73 years just months before in April.
“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 in her speech sitting next to a photo of Philip. “This year, especially, I understand why.”
Because of coronavirus restrictions, the queen also sat alone at Philip’s funeral after he died on April 9 at 99 years old.
She continued, “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,” she said.
She added later in her speech that even though there was “one familiar laugh missing” during the holiday season, their family would still be able to find the “joy in Christmas” through the “eyes of our young children.”
She also mentioned her then-upcoming Platinum Jubilee, celebrating 70 years on the throne this year, which she said she hoped “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.”
The queen’s Christmas broadcast has been an “intrinsic part of Christmas Day festivities for many people across the Commonwealth,” according to the palace.
“Each Broadcast carefully reflects current issues and concerns, and shares The Queen’s reflections on what Christmas means to her and to many of her listeners,” the palace says on its website. “Over the years, the Christmas Broadcast has acted as a chronicle of global, national and personal events which have affected The Queen and her audience.”
The queen delivered the first-ever televised speech in 1957, telling the nation she hoped broadcasting it would make her “Christmas message more personal and direct.”
King Charles III is expected to carry on the Christmas tradition that George V started in 1932 this season.