The Queen is to deliver a particularly personal Christmas Day message, surrounded by reminders of her beloved late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, heartfelt decorations made by children and the sound of a choir.
This is the 95-year-old monarch’s first festive period without Philip, who died aged 99 in April.
Coronavirus restrictions at the time meant the Queen was forced to sit alone in St George’s Chapel for his funeral service.
In the message, the Queen is seen wearing a chrysanthemum brooch that she wore during her honeymoon in 1947 at Broadlands country house, Hampshire, and she is sat next to a framed picture of her and Philip.
It was taken at the same venue in 2007 to mark their diamond wedding anniversary.
A photograph released by Buckingham Palace ahead of her televised address to the nation shows the Queen wearing an embossed wool Christmas red shift dress, by British designer Angela Kelly, and sitting behind a desk in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.
The Queen also wore the brooch, made from sapphires and diamonds set in platinum, in a photograph to mark the couple’s 73rd wedding anniversary last year.
She is sat in front of an illuminated Christmas tree that has been decorated with more than 100 white and gold stars, which were specially made by the children and staff of The Royal School, Windsor.
The children eventually got to take the stars home as presents for their parents and carers as they were returned to the school after the message was recorded. They were hung on the pupils’ Christmas tree until the end of term.
Those who tune into for the Queen’s message are set to hear a Christmas carol being performed by the Singology Community Choir, a group of singers who come together from across London to share in their passion for music. The choir was filmed in St George’s Hall, Windsor.
Viewers will hear the National Anthem being played by The Central Band of the Royal British Legion in celebration of the organisation’s centenary.
Buckingham Palace announced the Queen had agreed to stage a service of thanksgiving for the life of the duke next spring, with the date and guestlist yet to be finalised.
The Queen is expected to be joined at Windsor Castle on Christmas Day by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, having shelved her customary trip to Sandringham as a “precautionary” measure amid rising coronavirus cases.
The Sun reported she will be joined by 20 family members in all, including the Duke of York and his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie Wessex and five of her great-grandchildren.
Charles, Camilla, the Wessexes and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester will attend a morning service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, Clarence House said.
But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be spending Christmas in Norfolk and will be joined by some members of the Middleton family.
The monarch’s annual address marks the end of a year peppered with both joy and immense sadness.
The Queen welcomed four new great-grandchildren to the family – August to Princess Eugenie, Lucas to Zara Tindall, Lilibet to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Sienna to Princess Beatrice.
Harry and Meghan publicly released the first photo of Lilibet on Thursday, with the infant seen smiling as she is held aloft by her mother in the couple’s “family holiday” e-card.
The photograph, taken by Alexi Lubomirski at the couple’s Santa Barbara home in California, also shows the Queen’s grandson smiling at his daughter, while son Archie, two, sits on his father’s knee.
But there was also scandal this year, following Harry and Meghan’s bombshell interview with US chat show titan Oprah Winfrey in which they accused an unnamed royal of racism, as well as other allegations about the institution.
The royals also had to contend with allegations from Virginia Giuffre, who started legal action against the Duke of York for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. Andrew has repeatedly denied all claims.
And the monarch has faced her own health issues this year, when, in October, she was admitted to hospital overnight for preliminary investigations and ordered by her doctors to rest.
The Queen used her 2020 Christmas broadcast to deliver a heartfelt message of hope to the country, praising the “indomitable spirit” of those who had risen “magnificently” to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Queen’s address to the nation will be broadcast across multiple channels at 3pm on Christmas Day.