‘You are not alone’: Queen feels anguish of families separated by COVID
Written by on 25 December 2020
The Queen has described how she feels the country’s sadness and anguish at being separated from family because of coronavirus this Christmas, as many just want “a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand”.
In her annual Christmas Day broadcast, Her Majesty praises how individuals and communities across the UK and the Commonwealth have “risen magnificently to the challenges of the year” and how she has been “moved by this quiet indomitable spirit”.
But calling on the country to draw some positives from the light of Christmas, she says: “Even on the darkest nights there is still hope in the new dawn.”
Speaking in a more personal tone than we would usually hear from the monarch, she says: “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.”
Only camera operators were allowed in the room as it was filmed under strict COVID-19 restrictions.
Usually an array of family photographs are placed alongside the Queen for the message, but this time only a photograph of Prince Philip, 99, is on the desk, symbolic of the smaller and more low-key Christmas that the entire country is having to endure.
Using the example of the Bible story the Good Samaritan, the Queen praises the unexpected heroes that have risen to the challenge of the pandemic.
She says: “Remarkably, a year that has necessarily kept people apart has in many ways brought us closer.
“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 adds “Good Samaritans have emerged across society showing care and respect for all regardless of gender, race or background, reminding us that each one of us is special and equal in the eyes of God.”
Almost all of the photographs used in the broadcast are taken from the Duchess of Cambridge’s Hold Still photographic project that she launched with the National Portrait Gallery to document the country’s experiences of the pandemic.
They include a picture of Captain Tom Moore, who was knighted by the Queen this year, and many photos of NHS staff.
Reflecting on how this has been the “year of the nurse”, marking 200 years since Florence Nightingale was born, Her Majesty pays particular tribute to medical workers.
“Today our frontline services still shine that light for us, supported by the amazing achievements of modern science, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.”
Speaking about the added relevance of the 100th anniversary of the burial of the unknown warrior at Westminster Abbey, the Queen says: “The unknown warrior was not exceptional, that’s the point, 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.”
A choir of doctors and nurses from the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir were given the honour of performing the closing carol, Joy to the World.
Graeme Tyler, a senior staff nurse in children’s A&E at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, said they were only told at the last minute why they had been asked to rehearse the carol.
He said: “What we’ve done as a very small choir is to try and boost morale within the NHS and for everyone within the community, and that’s really, really important, and we feel honoured and humbled to have been given the opportunity to represent the NHS at a time like this when everyone is working so hard – it’s amazing.”
The Queen closes her broadcast with the words: “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.
“It is in that spirit that I wish you a very happy Christmas.”