Every year, the British monarch traditionally spends Christmas at Sandringham House where the royal family—including her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—join her. However, the pandemic has prevented them from celebrating at the country home this year.
Instead, the Queen is spending Christmas at Windsor Castle with her husband Prince Philip for the first time since 1987. “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 Buckingham Palace spokesperson announced in early December, as per ABC News.
“They are fortunate to spend Christmas with their family every year, but they understand that their family will have competing demands over the Christmas period and are content to have a quiet festive season this year,” a source told People. “Like everyone, their hope is that normality will return in 2021.”
As for the rest of the royals, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are celebrating Christmas in California with their son Archie while Prince William, Kate Middleton, and their three kids will spend the holiday at Anmer Hall, their country estate in Norfolk. The Queen’s son, Prince Charles, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are staying at their Gloucestershire estate, Highgrove House.
Despite the change in plans, the 94-year-old royal matriarch still delivered her annual Christmas speech, offering the world a hopeful message amid these difficult times.
“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. “For Christians, Jesus is ‘the light of the world,’ but we can’t celebrate his birth today in quite the usual way.”
She continued, “People of all faiths have been unable to gather as they would wish for their festivals, such as Passover, Easter, Eid, and Vaisakhi,” Queen Elizabeth continued before adding, “But we need life to go on.”
“Remarkably, a year that has necessarily kept people apart has, in many ways, brought us closer,” she said. “Of course, for many, this time of year will be tinged with sadness: some mourning the loss of those dear to them, and others missing friends and family—members distanced for safety, when all they’d really want for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand.”
The Queen offered her thoughts and prayers to those in mourning or separated from their families over the holiday before concluding her speech, which you can watch in full above. “Let the light of Christmas—the spirit of selflessness, love, and above all hope—guide us in the times ahead,” she said. “It is in that spirit that I wish you a very happy Christmas.”