Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas message focuses on hope at close of pandemic-stricken year


Queen Elizabeth’s annual Christmas message looks back on a year in which the coronavirus pandemic cast a pall over the world but brought out the “indomitable” spirit of those who rose to the challenges.

In her address broadcast Friday, the 94-year-old monarch acknowledged the “difficult and unpredictable times.”

“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 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.”

With infection rates soaring in recent weeks and many hospitals nearing their capacities, the British government on Dec. 19 cancelled Christmas gatherings and festive shopping for millions in a bid to control the spread of the virus. The United Kingdom has reported well over two million cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began and topped 70,000 deaths on Friday for the second-highest death toll in Europe behind Italy.

Worldwide, the number of reported cases was nearing 80 million, with more than 1.7 million deaths.

Praise for front-line workers 

While acknowledging the hardship experienced by many, the Queen devoted much of her address to celebrating the actions of those who have stepped up to provide help.

“Remarkably, a year that has necessarily kept people apart has in many ways brought us closer. Across the Commonwealth, my family and I have been inspired by stories of people volunteering in their communities helping those in need,” she said.

“In the United Kingdom and around the world, people have risen magnificently to the challenges of the year, and I’m so proud and moved by this quiet, indomitable spirit.”

WATCH | Queen’s Christmas message one of hope, gratitude:

The Queen’s annual Christmas message was one of hope for a world torn apart by the pandemic, but also of gratitude for the sacrifices so many have made. 1:59

The Queen in particular highlighted the contributions of front-line workers and young people, evoking the parable of the Good Samaritan, as well as the Unknown Warrior, an unidentified British soldier from the First World War whose tomb is at London’s Westminster Abbey.

The monarch ended her message on a note of hope.

“The Bible tells how a star appeared in the sky, its light guiding the shepherds and wise men to the scene of Jesus’s birth. Let the light of Christmas, the spirit of selflessness, love and, above all, hope guide us in the times ahead,” she said.

Like many others, the Royal Family has had to adapt to the realities of the pandemic this holiday season. The Queen recorded her Christmas address at Windsor Castle in Berkshire, where she has been living in near isolation with Prince Philip for much of the pandemic.

Buckingham Palace has said that the couple is spending Christmas “quietly” at Windsor this year, instead of hosting their traditional large family gathering at Sandringham House in Norfolk.



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Britons to plant trees to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on throne



FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth speaks with staff during a visit to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Science Park near Salisbury, Britain October 15, 2020. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

November 29, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – Britons will be encouraged to plant trees to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70th anniversary on the throne as part of a plan to create a greener country in honour of her seven decades of service.

The 94-year-old, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, is due to mark her Platinum Jubilee in February 2022.

The government is planning a four-day celebration that summer, featuring an extra day’s public holiday, with tree planting to be a feature of the milestone, according to an announcement on Sunday.

Named “The Queen’s Green Canopy,” the charity-backed project will encourage communities, schools, councils and landowners to plant native trees to help the environment and make local areas greener.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the health crisis and pandemic had reminded people of the importance of nature and green spaces and that trees could transform communities as well as tackling climate change.

“As we celebrate Her Majesty’s incredible 70 years of service, I encourage everyone to get behind this scheme and go ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee,’” Johnson said.

Charities Cool Earth and The Woodland Trust said the planting of trees would create a special gift for the monarch, who has planted more than 1,500 trees around the world during her reign.

Elizabeth, who is also the world’s current oldest and longest-reigning monarch, became queen on Feb. 6, 1952, following the death of her father King George VI.

The British royal family have been vocal campaigners on a host of environmental issues, with Elizabeth’s son Prince Charles speaking out for decades about the impact of climate change and the importance of conservation, and her grandson Prince William also taking up the mantle.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Mike Harrison)





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