Health

Queen Elizabeth speaks of missing her husband’s ‘familiar laugh’ at Christmas

The
95-year-old monarch said that while Christmas was a time of happiness for many,
it could be hard for those who had lost loved ones, and this year especially
she understood why, having lost Philip, 99, in April after 73 years of
marriage.

“His
sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any
situation were all irrepressible,” she said in her traditional
pre-recorded festive broadcast, paying tribute to “my beloved
Philip”.

“That
mischievous enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes
on him,” she said.

The queen
said she knew Philip would want his family to enjoy Christmas, and there would
be joy for them despite the absence of his “familiar laugh”.

She
delivered her address seated at a desk on which stood a photograph of herself
and Philip, standing arm-in-arm and smiling at each other. The photo was taken
in 2007, when the couple were marking their Diamond Wedding Anniversary.

For her
broadcast, the queen wore a sapphire brooch that she wore on her honeymoon in
1947 and for the Diamond Wedding portrait. Photos of her and Philip at various
stages of their lives appeared on the screen while she spoke.

Elizabeth is
spending Christmas at Windsor Castle, west of London, for the second year
running, a break from royal tradition caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A palace
source said this reflected a precautionary approach when the Omicron variant is
spreading fast.

Close family
members were due to visit her, including her eldest son Prince Charles and his
wife Camilla. She was not expected to make a public appearance.

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Usually, all
the Windsors gather for Christmas at another one of her homes, the Sandringham
estate in eastern England. Their walk to a nearby church for a Christmas
service is a staple of the royal calendar.

With
Britain’s daily COVID infection numbers hitting records, the queen last week
cancelled a pre-Christmas lunch with her family, also as a precaution.

In her
message, she also spoke of her upcoming Platinum Jubilee year, which starts in
February and will mark her 70 years on the throne. She is the longest-reigning
monarch in British history, having in 2015 overtaken her
great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

She said she
hoped the jubilee would be a chance for people “to give thanks for the
enormous changes of the last 70 years, social, scientific and cultural, and
also to look ahead with confidence”.

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