Meghan Markle's First Royal Christmas: Queen Elizabeth Praises Prince Philip's 'Unique' Sense of Humor

Prince Harry Meghan Markle
In this handout photo provided by Kensington Palace, engaged couple Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for one of two official engagement photos at Frogmore House in December, 2017 in Windsor, United Kingdom. Getty Images/ Alexi Lubomirski

Britain's Queen Elizabeth will pay tribute to her husband Prince Philip in her Christmas message, and praise his "support and unique sense of humor".

The 96-year-old prince, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, has been at the queen's side throughout her 65 years on the throne, and has regularly grabbed the headlines with his off-color comments.

He retired from regular royal duties over the summer, but has continued to make occasional appearances, most recently walking to the Christmas Eve church service on the royal family's Sandringham estate.

The queen will also talk about the importance of home in her message, and the sense of community in London and Manchester after the capital's devastating Grenfell Tower fire and the militant attacks in both cities.

"We think of our homes as place of warmth, familiarity and love...there is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home," she will say, according to excerpts from her speech released by Buckingham Palace.

"This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past 12 months in the face of appalling attacks," she will add in the message which will be broadcast at 1000 ET.

Elizabeth, the world's longest reigning monarch, very rarely talks about her husband.

On their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, she said he did not take easily to compliments but had been her "strength and stay all these years".

Philip, who has carried out more than 22,000 solo engagements, developed a reputation for his comments, including his remark about "slitty eyes" on a visit to China in the 1980s.

In the following decade, he said "Aren't most of you descended from pirates?" to an islander in the Cayman Islands and asked a driving instructor in Scotland: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?"

The seasonal royal message dates back to King George V in 1932 and was first televised 60 years ago in 1957.

For the first time, Prince Harry has been joined by a partner as the royal family gathered for Christmas in Sandringham, the queen's private estate in the English county of Norfolk.

Meghan Markle, who joined the Royal family at Sandringham House in a break with tradition, will also attend a Christmas Day service at the local parish, St Mary Magdalene Church.