Queen pays tribute to Prince Philip in Christmas speech: 'One familiar laugh is missing'

25 December 2021, 15:14 | Updated: 25 December 2021, 15:18

By Will Taylor

The Queen has given a personal Christmas Day address in which she discussed the loss of Prince Philip and acknowledged how hard this time of year can be for those missing loved ones.

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It marked the first time the monarch broadcast her traditional speech to the nation since the Duke of Edinburgh died, as she said "one familiar laugh" will be missing from festivities.

She spoke lovingly of her husband, his achievements and focus on the environment before saying that Christmas can speak to the inner child in adults burdened by worries.

The Queen said during her speech, which she wrote herself: "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.

Read more: The Queen cancels traditional pre-Christmas family lunch as a precaution

"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."

A video broadcast of the speech opens with the monarch's glowing remarks about Philip playing over photos and footage of the two.

The Queen acknowledged that with Covid spreading many can't stick to plans they might normally have put in place.

Read more: Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer address nation in 'heartfelt' Christmas messages

She had to change her usual programme this year, deciding to stay at Windsor Castle instead of travelling to Sandringham. She will spend today with Prince Charles and Camilla.

The monarch also scrapped a pre-Christmas meal with loved ones.

She said it is rewarding to see children grow up and embrace values and traditions like Christmas routines.

"I see it in my own family and it is a source of great happiness," the Queen said.

"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."

The Platinum Jubilee, which starts in February, can be an opportunity for people to "enjoy a sense of togetherness" and to give thanks for the social, scientific and cultural changes of the past 70 years, the Queen added.

And she said: "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."

She signed off her message by wishing everyone a happy Christmas.