In her annual Christmas speech, the Queen has paid tribute to those among us who have made difficult sacrifices this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, and reached out to those who may be celebrating the holiday alone as a result.
Her Majesty opened her annual speech, which was recorded at Windsor Castle, by acknowledging how the coronavirus pandemic has affected myriad celebrations around the world this year, such as Passover, Eid, Diwali and Easter. But she said despite the distance we've all been forced to put between each other, 2020 has "brought us closer" in some ways.
"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," she said. "To our young people in particular, I say thank you for the part you have played."
The 94-year-old went on to reference nursing pioneers such as Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, drawing a link to today's front-line workers. She said she and many other members of the Royal Family had taken inspiration from everyone battling the pandemic, calling them everyday Good Samaritans, referencing one of the most famous Christian parables.
"We continue to be inspired by the kindness of strangers, and draw comfort that even on the darkest nights, there is hope in the new dawn," she said.
Acts of kindness remind all of us that we are all equal, the Queen continued.
Closing her speech, the monarch referenced the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey. The memorial honours an unnamed soldier who died in World War I, who is recognized as "a symbol of selfless duty and ultimate sacrifice."
"[He] was not exceptional – that's the point," she said. "He represents millions like him, who, throughout our history, have put the lives of others above their own – and will be doing so today. For me, this is a source of enduring hope in difficult and unpredictable times.
"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 really want for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand. If you are among them, you are not alone, and let me assure you of my thoughts and prayers."
The Queen made her speech with a photo of Prince Philip at her right-hand side. She donned a purple dress and was also wearing The Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch, which was once owned by her mother.
Her Majesty always picks her outfits and brooches for her Christmas speech very carefully, and this year she seemed to indicate she was keeping her loved ones close to her heart and in her memory, even if she cannot be with them – just like many of us this holiday season.
We have seen the Queen wear the brooch on important occasions such as the unveiling of a statue in her mother's memory in 2009, and the 60th anniversary of her father King George VI's death. The Queen Mother also wore the brooch during the celebrations for her 100th birthday.
This year, the Queen and her husband of 74 years are celebrating Christmas quietly together at Windsor Castle for the first time since 1987. The Royal Family has been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and is unable to gather at Sandringham for their traditional holiday celebrations this year.
The Royal Family has spent most of the year carrying on its work through virtual engagements, connecting with people through phone or Zoom meetings.
This was the second speech the Queen has given this year. In early April, she gave a special address to the Commonwealth in which she referenced the late Dame Vera Lynn, saying we must all do our part to combat COVID-19, which we will eventually overcome.