Queen Elizabeth delivered her annual address to the nation on Christmas Day. However, as the British monarch noted, the holiday was being celebrated in a different way this year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Every year, we herald the coming of Christmas by turning on the lights. And light does more than create a festive mood; light brings hope,” she began the pre-recorded speech.
“For Christians, Jesus is the light of the world but we can’t celebrate his birth today in quite the usual way,” she said while noting that “people of all faiths have been unable to gather as they would wish for their festivals.”
The queen said she and her family have been “inspired by stories of people volunteering in their communities helping those in need.” She said across Great Britain and the rest of the world, “people [have] risen magnificently to the challenges of the year.”
She thanked frontline workers, saying “we owe them a debt of gratitude.”
“We continue to be inspired by the kindness of strangers and draw comfort that even in the darkest nights, there’s comfort in the new dawn.”
The queen, 94, then went on to note that this time of year “will be tinged with sadness” for many across the world.
“Some mourning the loss of those dear to them and others missing friends and family, distanced for safety, when all they really want for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand,” she said.
“If you are among them, you are not alone. And let me assure you of my thoughts and prayers,” she said. “Let the light of Christmas, the spirit of selflessness, love and above all hope, guide us in the time ahead.”
She concluded: “It is in that spirit that I wish you a very happy Christmas.”
For the first time in decades, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, are spending Christmas at Windsor Castle instead of their Sandringham estate.
Buckingham Palace officials said Tuesday that the monarch and her husband may see some members of their family briefly in accordance with guidelines, but Christmas celebrations will likely involve just the couple.
“Having considered all the appropriate advice, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor,” a spokeswoman said.
The queen will also not attend church on Christmas Day to avoid large crowds of well-wishers gathering.
The royal family spent many Christmases at Windsor Castle when the queen’s children were small, but since the 1980s the royal family has celebrated Christmas and New Year’s at the queen’s country estate, Sandringham, in Norfolk, eastern England.
Hundreds of people typically gather near the historic church at Sandringham on Christmas Day to greet the royal family as they arrive for their morning service.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are spending Christmas at their California home with their son Archie, 1.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.