Grenfell Tower victims and the firefighters who battled the fatal blaze which claimed 71 lives headlined the Queen’s 60th Christmas Day broadcast. The 91-year-old monarch also praised the resilience of London and Manchester after “appalling attacks”.
The “powerful identities” of the capital and the northern English city had shone through after militant attacks as well as the devastating fire that destroyed the residential tower block in west London in June, the Queen said.
The 91 year-old monarch, whose televised address is a Christmas staple in Britain, recounted how it had been a privilege to visit victims of the bomb attack at a pop concert in Manchester, as she was able to witness the bravery and resilience of survivors first-hand.
On the 60th anniversary of her first televised Christmas address, she said her reflections on the year had made her “grateful for the blessings of home and family”, and praised her husband and his “unique” sense of humour.
The Duke of Edinburgh, 96, has been at the queen’s side throughout her 65 years on the throne, and has often grabbed the headlines with his put-downs, one-liners and blunt remarks.
The Queen, the world’s longest reigning monarch, celebrated her platinum wedding anniversary in November while the duke retired from regular royal duties over the summer having carried out more than 22,000 solo engagements.
“I don’t know that anyone had invented the term ‘platinum’ for a 70th wedding anniversary when I was born. You weren’t expected to be around that long,” she said.
“Even Prince Philip has decided it’s time to slow down a little – having, as he economically put it, ‘done his bit’. But I know his support and unique sense of humor will remain as strong as ever.”
Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle who is spending Christmas with the royals joined other members of the royal family at a Christmas Day church service in Sandringham in a departure from established tradition where unmarried spouses were excluded from such events.
The American actress, 36, wore a distinctive brown fascinator, a carmel Sentaler wrap coat, a brown suede Stuart Weitzman high-heeled suede shoes accessorised with a £900 round Chloe bag as she arrived alongside Harry, his elder brother William and his wife Kate. As they left, both couples briefly chatted to some well-wishers who had gathered to glimpse the royals on Christmas morning.
The Queen, who missed last year’s service with a heavy cold, said in her address that she was looking forward to welcoming new members into the royal family next year. As well as Markle, who will marry Harry in May, Kate is expecting a third child in the spring.
The royal Christmas broadcast dates back to King George V in 1932 when it was on the radio. It was first televised in 1957.