The Queen has paid tribute to her “beloved” Philip in a tear-jerking Christmas message in which she reflected on a year of grief.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who was married to the Queen for 73 years, died in April aged 99.
In a pre-recorded address from the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle the Queen said Christmas “can be hard for those who had lost loved ones”.
“This year, especially, I understand why,” she said.
“But for me, in the months since the death of my beloved Philip, I have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes to his life and work – from around the country, the Commonwealth and the world.
“His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation – were all irrepressible.
“That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him.
“But life, of course, consists of final partings as well as first meetings – and as much as I and my family miss him, I know he would want us to enjoy Christmas.
“We felt his presence as we, like millions around the world, readied ourselves for Christmas.”
For the address, the monarch wore a sapphire chrysanthemum brooch worn on her honeymoon in 1947.
But there was no reference – either on screen or by name during the nine-minute broadcast – to her middle son, Prince Andrew, nor the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the trio having stepped back from royal duties.
There was, however, tacit mention of Lilibet, the Sussexes’ daughter, as one of four great-grandchildren born in 2021.
The personal message – written, as always, by the Queen alone – is particularly apt given the upheaval many families have experienced during another year affected by coronavirus.
The Queen also acknowledged the impact of the Omicron variant, having cancelled her regular trip to Sandringham in order to spend Christmas at Windsor.
She was joined on the day by Charles and Camilla but did not attend a Christmas service at St George’s Chapel.
The Queen, whose speech was recorded in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, said: “While Covid again means we can’t celebrate quite as we may have wished, we can still enjoy the many happy traditions.”
She added: “I am sure someone somewhere today will remark that Christmas is a time for children. It’s an engaging truth, but only half the story.
“Perhaps it’s truer to say that Christmas can speak to the child within us all.
“Adults, when weighed down with worries, sometimes fail to see the joy in simple things, where children do not.
“And for me and my family, even with one familiar laugh missing this year, there will be joy in Christmas, as we have the chance to reminisce, and see anew the wonder of the festive season through the eyes of our young children, of whom we were delighted to welcome four more this year.”
The Queen, 95, also hinted at the prospect of reuniting with loved ones in the new year.
She said: “February, just six weeks from now, will see the start of my Platinum Jubilee year, which I hope will be an opportunity for people everywhere to enjoy a sense of togetherness … and also to look ahead with confidence.”
The Queen concluded: “I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”