Queen’s poignant mementoes of Philip kept close for Christmas message

The Queen will deliver what is expected to be a particularly personal Christmas Day message surrounded by reminders of the Duke of Edinburgh, as she prepares to spend her first festive period without her late husband.

A photograph released by Buckingham Palace ahead of her televised address to the nation shows the Queen sitting behind a desk in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.

Next to her is a framed picture of her and Philip taken in 2007 at Broadlands country house, Hampshire, to mark their diamond wedding anniversary.

The handout picture shows the Queen wearing an embossed wool shift dress in Christmas red, by British designer Angela Kelly, as well as a chrysanthemum brooch which the then-Princess Elizabeth wore for a photocall on her honeymoon, also to Broadlands, in 1947.

The Queen also wore the brooch, made from sapphires and diamonds set in platinum, in a photo to mark the couple’s 73rd wedding anniversary last year.

She is sat in front of an illuminated Christmas tree.

This year’s message follows the death of the duke in April aged 99, while coronavirus restrictions at the time meant the Queen was memorably and poignantly forced to sit alone in St George’s Chapel for his funeral service.

Buckingham Palace announced the Queen had agreed to stage a service of thanksgiving for the life of the duke next spring, with the date and guestlist yet to be finalised.

The Queen is expected to be joined at Windsor Castle on Christmas Day by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, having shelved her customary trip to Sandringham as a “precautionary” measure amid rising coronavirus cases.

Princess Elizabeth in 1947 enjoying a stroll with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Broadlands, Hampshire, during their first public appearance since their wedding
Princess Elizabeth in 1947 enjoying a stroll with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Broadlands (PA)

The Sun reported she will be joined by 20 family members in all, including the Duke of York and his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie Wessex and five of her great-grandchildren.

Charles, Camilla, the Wessexes and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester will attend a morning service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, Clarence House said.

But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be spending Christmas in Norfolk and will be joined by some members of the Middleton family.

The monarch’s annual address marks the end of a year peppered with both joy and immense sadness.

The Queen welcomed four new great-grandchildren to the family – August to Princess Eugenie, Lucas to Zara Tindall, Lilibet to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Sienna to Princess Beatrice.

Harry and Meghan publicly released the first photo of Lilibet on Thursday, with the infant seen smiling as she is held aloft by her mother in the couple’s “family holiday” e-card.

The photograph, taken by Alexi Lubomirski at the couple’s Santa Barbara home in California, also shows the Queen’s grandson smiling at his daughter, while son Archie, two, sits on his father’s knee.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, pictured on their Diamond Anniversary
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Broadlands in 2007 (Fiona Hanson/PA)

But there was also scandal this year, following Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview with US chat show titan Oprah Winfrey in which they accused an unnamed royal of racism, as well as other allegations about the institution.

The royals also had to contend with allegations from Virginia Giuffre, who started legal action against the Duke of York for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. Andrew has repeatedly denied all claims.

And the monarch has faced her own health issues this year, when, in October, she was admitted to hospital overnight for preliminary investigations and ordered by her doctors to rest.

The Queen used her 2020 Christmas broadcast to deliver a heartfelt message of hope to the country, praising the “indomitable spirit” of those who had risen “magnificently” to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Queen’s address to the nation will be broadcast across multiple channels at 3pm on Christmas Day.

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