Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth II spoke of her own personal grief and expressed sympathy for others around the world who have lost loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic in her annual Christmas Day message on Saturday.
The 95-year-old monarch, speaking in a video recorded last week in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, commemorated her late husband, Prince Phillip, who died in April at age 99, saying that she empathizes with those who are without family members during the holidays.
There was "one familiar laugh missing this year," she said of the late Duke of Edinburgh, noting that he had the "capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation."
"Although it's a time of great happiness and good cheer for many, Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones," she added. "This year, especially, I understand why."
At one point during the queen's annual address, the camera pulled back to reveal a framed photograph of the royal couple -- taken in 2007 on their 60th wedding anniversary.
Elizabeth also honored her late husband by wearing the same sapphire chrysanthemum brooch that she did during the couple's honeymoon in 1947.
"His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation were all irrepressible," she said. "That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him."
The queen spoke of loss at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is raging through Britain for a second consecutive Christmas. Health officials reported more than 122,000 new cases on Friday -- Britain's highest daily figure since the pandemic began -- which forced hundreds of thousands to self-isolate.
She acknowledged the impact of the Omicron variant, noting that the outbreak was responsible for canceling her regular Christmas trip to the royal family's home in Norfolk.
The queen also expressed kind words for her son, Princes Charles, and grandson William and their families, praising them for their work in bringing attention to climate change.
Conspicuously missing from the queen's address, however, was grandson Harry -- who with his wife Meghan have controversially stepped away from royal duties and moved to the United States. Also not mentioned was the queen's middle son, Prince Andrew, who's become embroiled in the Jeffrey Epstein underage sex scandal.
Despite the personal and national losses, Queen Elizabeth II said she's still looking to the coming months with optimism, including the celebration of her Platinum Jubilee in February to mark 70 years on the throne.
The queen said she hopes the occasion "will be an opportunity for people everywhere to enjoy a sense of togetherness ... and also to look ahead with confidence."
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