The Queen’s Christmas broadcast for 2020 will take on a special poignancy in this time of Covid-19. Each year of her reign, with two exceptions, Her Majesty’s message has followed on the tradition of her father, King George VI: besides its necessarily religious tone she has talked about what has been happening during the period in question. She often refers to disasters such as the horrific bushfires in Australia, but always puts a positive message forward.
How hard it must be for her this year, with the decision of her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan to move to North America, and the worry for the future of her ‘favourite’ son, the Duke of York, who was obliged to relinquish his royal duties after his disastrous interview with Emily Maitlis for the BBC’s Newsnight in November 2019.
Then there was the concern for her son and heir, Prince Charles, contracting coronavirus around the same time as Prince William and her British prime minister, Boris Johnson. William chose not to make his illness public until recently for fear it would cause further alarm, given the mood of the nation at the time.
At the beginning of November, the Queen’s cousin and close friend Lady Elizabeth Anson, who organised all the prominent royal parties and weddings for several decades, died of emphysema. It was not unexpected, but Lady Elizabeth was one of those people who had the knack of making everyone – including the monarch – feel better about themselves. They spoke on the telephone at least once a week, sharing intimacies about their family and amusing gossip, despite the gravity of what may have been going on around them. Lady Elizabeth spoke to Majesty several times over the years and in our next issue we will pay tribute to her.
There have, of course, been some happy moments during this year, not least the marriage of Princess Beatrice to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in the private setting of the Queen Mother’s favourite royal chapel, All Saints, next to Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park. The Queen has also been able to spend more time with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who in his twilight years likes to be at Wood Farm on the Sandringham Estate. The pandemic obliged them to make Windsor Castle their headquarters from March until August, when they relocated to Balmoral. After a brief sojourn in Norfolk on the way south, they both eventually returned to their Berkshire ‘bubble’ for the second national lockdown.
At the end of October, the Duchess of Sussex was granted a postponement of the trial of her privacy action against Associated Newspapers that had been scheduled to start in January. So, while the timing of the Sussexes’ return to the UK remains uncertain, they will come over as soon as permitted so the Prince of Wales can see his grandson Archie, and the Queen and the Duke their eighth great-grandchild, for the first time since last year.
On behalf of everyone at Majesty, I should like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous 2021.
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