LONDON (AP) – Queen Elizabeth II, in her Christmas Day post, shared the pain she felt after the death of her husband as she encouraged people around the world to celebrate with their friends and family. family, despite the grief caused by the ongoing pandemic.

Saying that she understood the difficulty of making it through the holiday season “with a familiar laughter missing,” the monarch delivered her speech alongside a framed photo of her arm in arm with Prince Philip, who died in April at the age 99. Over her right shoulder was the same sapphire chrysanthemum brooch she wore in the photo – a glittering pin she also wore as a bride.

“Although it is a time of great happiness and good humor for many, Christmas can be difficult for those who have lost loved ones,” the Queen said in the pre-recorded message released when many British families were enjoying their traditional dinner of Christmas. “This year, above all, I understand why.

This holiday season is the first since the monarch said goodbye to her husband, over 70, during a service in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Coronavirus restrictions in place at the time meant the Queen was sitting alone – a poignant reminder of how she would spend her life in the future.

Despite her own loss, the Queen said her family was “a source of great happiness, noting that she had welcomed four great-grandchildren this year.

“Although COVID again means that we can’t celebrate quite as we perhaps wished, we can still enjoy the many happy traditions, whether it be the singing of Christmas carols – as long as the tune is well known – decorating the tree, giving and receiving gifts or watching a favorite movie that we already know the ending of, ”she said. “It’s no surprise that families so often cherish their Christmas routines.

As the highly transmissible variant of the omicron coronavirus spreads rapidly across the UK, the 95-year-old Queen has decided not to spend Christmas at Sandringham, the royal estate in the east of England where she traditionally spends the holidays. end of year family celebrations. The palace said on Monday that the Queen would spend the holidays at Windsor Castle, west London, where she remained during most of the pandemic.

She will be joined by some of her family, including Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall.

The annual Christmas message to the people of the UK and Commonwealth marks the end of a busy and sometimes difficult year for the Queen.

Philip died in April, just two months away from his 100th birthday, after spending weeks in hospital. Buckingham Palace announced this week that it has agreed to host a Thanksgiving service for her life in the spring.

The monarch has had health problems herself, cutting back on her travel and work since spending a night in hospital in October and being told by her doctors to rest. Since then, she has taken on light duties, including virtual hearings with diplomats and weekly conversations with the Prime Minister.

In June, she made an appearance at the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, and in November, she gave a recorded speech at the United Nations climate talks in Glasgow.

Closing her Christmas post, the Queen noted that the holidays are often seen as a time for children. But, she said, this is “only half the story.”

“Perhaps it is truer to say that Christmas can speak to the child within us all. Adults, overcome with worry, sometimes fail to see the joy of the simple things where children do not. And for me and my family, even with a familiar laughter missing this year, there will be joy at Christmas. ”

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