Queen Elizabeth’s annual Christmas address invokes the anniversaries of the D-Day invasion and the moon landing, as well as the birth of her eighth great-grandchild, to deliver a message of peace and reconciliation.
The 93-year-old monarch quoted astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous words of having made “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” when he stepped onto the moon during the Apollo 11 mission some 50 years ago.
“It’s a reminder for us all that giant leaps often start with small steps,” the Queen said.
She did not make any direct references to modern-day political issues, including the recent U.K. election that saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party secure a resounding victory, paving the way for Brexit. But she noted events this spring that marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which saw former foes set aside their differences and come together for “friendly commemorations.
“Such reconciliation seldom happens overnight. It takes patience and time to rebuild trust, and progress often comes through small steps,” she said.
“By 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.”
Wearing a blue dress and surrounded by portraits of her family, the Queen noted the birth this year of Archie, Prince Harry’s first child, with Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and her eighth great-grandchild. Turning to Christmas, she said the story is, at its heart, about the birth of a child, an event that goes “overlooked’ in Bethlehem.
“But in time, through his teaching and by his example, Jesus Christ would show the world how small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding,” she said.
“Many of us already try to follow in his footsteps. 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.”
WATCH | In Christmas message, Queen Elizabeth encourages ‘small steps’ to create change:
The carol It Came Upon a Midnight Clear speaks of Christ coming into a “divided world,” she went on, but also carries the angels’ timeless message of “peace and goodwill.
“It’s a timely reminder of what positive things can be achieved when people set aside past differences and come together in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation,” she said.
“And as we all look forward to the start of a new decade, it’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.”
Prince Philip released from hospital
As is customary, the Queen is spending Christmas at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, eastern England, where she will be joined by other members of the Royal Family. That group will not include Harry and Meghan, who are spending the holidays with their son in Canada.
Prince Philip was released from hospital on Tuesday. He’d been receiving treatment since last week for what Buckingham Palace called a “precautionary measure” to treat a pre-existing condition.
He walked out of the King Edward VII Hospital and shook hands with a nurse before getting in the front passenger seat of a Range Rover car and being driven away.
Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, retired from public life in August 2017, but has appeared at a handful of official engagements since then.