Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 28 November 2020

Queen Elizabeth II to admit ‘bumpy’ year in Christmas speech

It was recorded before the queen’s husband, Prince Philip, was taken to hospital in London as a precautionary measure

The UK’s Queen Elizabeth II walks behind the Imperial State Crown during a procession through the Royal Gallery, during the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament in London on December 19, 2019. The State Opening of Parliament is where Queen Elizabeth II performs her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year in the Queen’s Speech. AFP
The UK’s Queen Elizabeth II walks behind the Imperial State Crown during a procession through the Royal Gallery, during the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament in London on December 19, 2019. The State Opening of Parliament is where Queen Elizabeth II performs her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year in the Queen’s Speech. AFP

Queen Elizabeth II plans to acknowledge that both Britain and her family have endured a difficult year by saying during her Christmas message it has been a “bumpy” time.

The pre-recorded message will be broadcast in the UK and the Commonwealth nations on Christmas Day. It was recorded before the queen’s husband, Prince Philip, was taken to hospital in London as a precautionary measure.

Excerpts released by Buckingham Palace before the speech show the queen admits difficulties during the course of the year.

Talking about the need for reconciliation and forgiveness, Queen Elizabeth says: “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.”

She is thought to be referring both to the UK’s tortuous path out of the European Union, which led to a lengthy political stalemate broken only earlier this month when voters gave the pro-Brexit Conservative Party a comfortable majority in Parliament, and to the royal family’s setbacks.

Problems facing the queen’s family this year included Prince Andrew’s retreat from public duties because of a disastrous TV interview in which he defended his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The family has also endured a public rift between Prince William and Prince Harry, who has travelled with his wife Meghan and young son Archie to Canada rather than spend the Christmas holidays at Sandringham Estate, the queen’s rural retreat, as has long been customary for senior royals.

Both Harry and Meghan have complained about constant scrutiny by the media as they settle into family life with Archie, 7 months.

The health of Prince Philip, 98, has been a constant concern. He has been in hospital in London for several days, but may yet return to Sandringham in time for Christmas. Details about his condition have not been made public.

When Prince Charles was asked about his father’s health during a visit to a flooded part of South Yorkshire on Monday, he said Prince Philip was: “All right. When you get to that age, things don’t work so well.”

Updated: December 24, 2019 09:42 AM

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