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Our bumpy year: Queen reflects on troubled times in TV address

The Queen records her annual Christmas broadcast at Windsor Castle in Berkshire
The Queen records her annual Christmas broadcast at Windsor Castle in Berkshire

By Tony Jones

The Queen will acknowledge the "bumpy" path the royal family and the nation has experienced over the past 12 months in her Christmas Day message.

During 2019, the Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a dramatic car accident, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spoke about their struggles living in the public eye, and the Duke of York gave a disastrous television interview about his friendship with a convicted sex offender.

The toxic mood of the public debate around Brexit has continued throughout the past 12 months, with the issue bitterly dividing the country and parliament, leading to uncertainty.

But the Queen will comment on how "small steps taken in faith and in hope" can be significant, and ultimately break down "long-held differences".

She will also highlight the 75th anniversary of the Second World War D-Day landings and how former "sworn enemies" joined together to mark the milestone in 2019. In her Christmas Day broadcast to the nation and the Commonwealth, the Queen, speaking about the life of Jesus and the importance of reconciliation, will say: "...how small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding...

"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."

The Queen's comment is thought to be her first public reference to the personal events her family has experienced this year.

Commentators may interpret the Queen's words as indicating the past year may be one she would rather forget, like 1992 which she dubbed her "annus horribilis" after the marriages of three of her children collapsed.

In that year the Princess Royal divorced, the Duke and Duchess of York separated as did the Prince and Princess of Wales, and Windsor Castle went up in flames.

During the past 12 months, the most damaging event for the monarchy was Prince Andrew's appearance on the BBC's Newsnight programme which has left his reputation in tatters.

Concerns have been voiced by royal watchers about Harry and Meghan who have based themselves in Canada for the festive break with baby son Archie.

The couple missed the Queen's pre-Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace and will not be present for the traditional royal family gathering at the monarch's private Sandringham estate on Christmas Day.

Philip, aged 98, voluntarily surrendered his licence after he was involved in a car crash on the Sandringham estate in January that left two women in another vehicle injured, while a baby with them had a miraculous escape.

The Queen is filmed sitting at a desk featuring photographs of her family with a large Christmas tree in the background.

In June, the UK hosted a major international event in Portsmouth commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day and attended by world leaders including US President Donald Trump, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Queen will say in her message: "By being willing to put past differences behind us and move forward together, we honour the freedom and democracy once won for us at so great a cost."

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