Queen Elizabeth II has used her annual Christmas message to pay tribute to the resilience of victims of terrorism and to her husband Prince Philip’s “unique sense of humour”.
The 96-year-old 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-colour comments.
He retired from solo royal duties in August, but has continued to make occasional appearances at events involving the Queen, most recently walking to the Christmas Eve church service on the Royal family’s Sandringham estate.
“Even Prince Philip has decided it’s time to slow down a little, having, as he economically put it, done his bit,” The Queen said in her seasonal message.
“But I know his support and unique sense of humour will remain strong as ever as we enjoy spending Christmas with our family, and look forward to welcoming new members into it next year.”
In her message to Britain and the Commonwealth, pre-recorded at Buckingham Palace, the Queen said: “This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past twelve months in the face of appalling attacks.”
England endured a series of devastating terrorist atrocities during the year, beginning with the Westminster Bridge attack in March that saw four pedestrians die when an attacker, later shot dead by police, drove at them before fatally stabbing a police officer.
In Manchester a few months later 22 people – including children – were killed when a lone suicide attacker detonated an explosive device as crowds of music fans left Manchester Arena following a performance by US singer Ariana Grande.
There were more deaths in June when three terrorists in a van ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge then went on a knife rampage in Borough Market, killing eight in total. They were shot dead by police.
The address traditionally has a strong religious framework reflecting the Queen’s faith, and is written by the monarch who draws on current issues and her own experiences over the past year.
This year, the Queen also spoke about the importance of home and a sense of community.
“We think of our homes as places of warmth, familiarity and love … there is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home,” she said.
This year’s annual address was produced by Sky News and was recorded in the palace’s 1844 room which is decorated with a large tree and features family photos.
Pictures of the Queen’s great grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, can be seen, along with two wedding related images of the Queen and Philip – but taken 70 years apart.
The royal couple are featured in a black and white image from their 1947 wedding, and in a colour photo released to mark their 70th wedding anniversary celebrated in November.
In the broadcast the Queen is wearing an ivory white dress by Angela Kelly, an outfit she first wore with a matching coat and hat for the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant in 2012. She is also wearing a star-shaped diamond brooch.
– with agencies