Queen Elizabeth II Says Christmas Without Philip Is Hard in Heartbreaking Message

Queen Elizabeth II said "Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones" as she celebrated without husband Prince Philip for the first time.

The 95-year-old Monarch paid her most touching tribute yet to the Duke of Edinburgh, acknowledging "one familiar laugh missing this year."

Elizabeth said the twinkle in her husband's eye was "as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him" but life "consists of final partings as well as first meetings."

In her annual Christmas speech to her nation, the queen 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.

"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."

The queen's annual Christmas message this year was among her most personal and emotional as for the first time she marks the occasion without her husband of 73 years, who died in April.

Visible on her desk in the White Drawing Room at Winsor Castle was a photograph from their Diamond Wedding Anniversary in 2007 at Broadlands, Hampshire.

Queen Elizabeth II's Delivers Christmas Message
Queen Elizabeth II delivers one of her most emotional Christmas messages in which she paid tribute to husband Prince Philip who died in April. The speech was recorded at Windsor Castle on December 23, 2021. Victoria Jones - Pool/Getty Images

However, Elizabeth also struck an optimistic tone as she looked ahead to her Platinum Jubilee next year, when she marks 70 years on the throne.

She said: "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."

Elizabeth had to cancel her annual pre-Christmas dinner which was due to be held at Windsor Castle last week, as well as her usual visit to Sandringham, in Norfolk. The monarch was also not among royals at church in Windsor amid soaring coronavirus cases numbers in Britain.

However, Prince Charles was among the royals to visit St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, the church where Philip's funeral was held. It is also the same chapel where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married in May 2018.

Charles and a small group of other family members visited the queen while Prince William and Kate Middleton spent Christmas Day at their country retreat, Anmer Hall, near Sandringham.

On Christmas Eve, Kate's Christmas carol concert was broadcast on ITV and showed her playing the piano during a duet of For Those Who Can't Be Here with Scottish singer songwriter Tom Walker.

In a message to fans on Twitter, William and Kate wrote: "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."

Prince Charles Attends Church on Christmas Day
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, attend the Christmas Day morning church service at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, on December 25, 2021. Queen Elizabeth II did not go to church on Christmas morning. Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II's Christmas Message 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 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.