The Queen will acknowledge the “bumpy” path the royal family and Britain have experienced in the past 12 months in her Christmas Day message.
During 2019, the Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a dramatic car accident, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spoke about their struggles living in the public eye and the Duke of York gave a disastrous television interview about his friendship with a convicted sex offender.
The toxic mood of the public debate around Brexit has continued throughout the year, with the issue bitterly dividing Britain and parliament, leading to uncertainty.
But the Queen will comment on how “small steps taken in faith and in hope” can be significant, and ultimately break down “long-held differences”.
The head of state will also highlight the 75th anniversary of the Second World War D-Day landings, and how former “sworn enemies” joined together in friendly commemorations to mark the milestone in 2019.
In her Christmas Day broadcast to the nation and the Commonwealth, the Queen, speaking about the life of Jesus and the importance of reconciliation, will say: “How small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding…
“The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.”
The Queen’s comment is thought to be her first public reference to the personal events her family has experienced this year.
Commentators might interpret the Queen’s words as indicating the past year might be one she would rather forget, like 1992, which she dubbed her “annus horribilis” after the marriages of three of her children collapsed.
In that year the Princess Royal divorced, the Duke and Duchess of York separated, as did the Prince and Princess of Wales, and Windsor Castle went up in flames.
During the past 12 months, the most significant and damaging event for the monarchy was Andrew’s appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight program which has left his reputation in tatters.
His attempt to explain his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein backfired and he was heavily criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and little remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier.
In the interview, the duke denied claims he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions.
Andrew has stepped down from royal duties for the foreseeable future, and some commentators have suggested he might have effectively retired from public life, especially after a large number of his patronages accepted his resignation.
Concerns have been voiced by royal watchers about Harry and Meghan, who have based themselves in Canada during an extended festive break with baby son Archie.
The couple missed the Queen’s pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace and will not be present for the traditional royal family gathering at the monarch’s private Sandringham estate on Christmas Day.
The decision to leave Britain came after the duke and duchess appeared in a documentary with Harry saying he and his brother the Duke of Cambridge were “on different paths” and have “good days” and “bad days” in their relationship.
Meghan described the past year as a member of the royal family as hard and said she tried to cope with the pressures of her new life by putting on a “stiff upper lip”, but she was not prepared for the intensity of tabloid newspaper interest.
Philip, aged 98, voluntarily surrendered his licence after he was involved in a car crash on the Sandringham estate in January that left two women in another vehicle injured, while a baby with them had a miraculous escape.
The duke faced criticism for taking too long to contact the occupants of the other car and for being seen driving without his seat-belt in the days that followed.
He then faced spending Christmas in hospital after a planned admission on Friday to the private King Edward VII in central London for treatment relating to a “pre-existing condition”, in what was described as a “precautionary measure” by Buckingham Palace.
On Tuesday, his son, Prince Charles, told well-wishers that his father was doing “all right”.
Brexit was the overriding national issue of the year, bringing rancorous debates in the Commons and ultimately leading to a snap election in December, won by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The Queen’s message, produced by the BBC, was recorded in Windsor Castle’s green drawing room after the election but before Philip was admitted to hospital. She is filmed sitting at a desk featuring photographs of her family, with a large Christmas tree in the background.