The Queen’s Christmas Day message will acknowledge the “bumpy path” experienced by her own family as well as the wider nation in 2019.
While Britain has had a tempestuous year as Brexit divided the nation, it hasn’t been plain sailing for the Royal Family either, including difficulties for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and scandal surrounding Prince Andrew.
On top of that, the Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a dramatic car accident and ended the year with concerns around his health after he was admitted into hospital then released on Christmas Eve after a four-night stay.
In her traditional Christmas Day broadcast, the Queen will acknowledge the difficulties, saying: “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.”
In her speech, she will say that “small steps taken in faith and in hope” can be significant, and “overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding”.
The monarch will also highlight the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, and how former “sworn enemies” joined together in friendly commemorations to mark the milestone in 2019.
The Queen’s comment is thought to be her first public reference to the personal events her family has experienced this year – a year some commentators have compared to her self-confessed “annus horribilis” in 1992, when the marriages of three of her children collapsed and Windsor Castle went up in flames.
One of the most difficult issues the Royal Family has had to deal with in 2019 is the scandal surrounding Prince Andrew and his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his prison cell in August.
One of Epstein’s victims has claimed she slept with Andrew on three separate occasions, and an attempt by the prince to salvage his reputation with an appearance on BBC Newsnight backfired as he was criticised for a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims, prompting him to step away from royal duties.
There have also been rumours of a rift between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the rest of the royal family.
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, instead basing themselves in Canada with baby son Archie for the festive season.
Earlier this year Meghan described being in the spotlight, especially as a new mother, as “hard” and said she tried to cope with the pressures of her new life by putting on a “stiff upper lip”.
Philip, 98, who spent four nights in hospital in the run-up to Christmas following a planned admission for treatment relating to a “pre-existing condition”, also faced criticism after he was involved in a car crash on the Sandringham estate in January, leaving two women injured.
The duke, who later voluntarily surrendered his driving licence, 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.
The Queen’s Christmas Day message, produced by the BBC, sees the monarch sitting at a desk featuring photographs of some of her family with a large Christmas tree in the background in Windsor Castle’s green drawing room.
One picture shows the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, while other family photographs on the desk include a picture of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as a black and white image of the Queen’s father King George VI sending a message of hope and reassurance to the British people in 1944.