LONDON (Reuters) - Queen Elizabeth will stress the value of harmony and reconciliation in her Christmas message this year, Buckingham Palace said on Tuesday, after a “quite bumpy” year for her own family and for Britain as it struggled with Brexit.
The palace released two short extracts from the 93-year-old monarch’s televised Christmas Day message, including one on the life of Jesus and the importance of reconciliation.
There was no indication of whether the queen will mention more painful aspects of 2019 for the royal family, particularly the furore over her son Prince Andrew’s links to U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew has said he regretted his “ill-judged” association with Epstein but never saw anything suspicious during the time he spent with the financier who committed suicide in jail in August after being arrested and charged with trafficking dozens of underage girls as young as 14. Epstein denied the charges.
Andrew has also denied allegations by a woman who said she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with his friends, including the prince, when she was 17.
Along with her 98-year-old husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, being involved in a car crash in January and spending the run-up to Christmas in hospital for checks, and her grandsons Princes William and Harry publicly falling out, it has been what many commentators have called another “annus horribilis” for her.
That was how she described 1992, when three of her children’s marriages - including that of Prince Charles to Princess Diana - collapsed and a fire severely damaged her Windsor Castle home.
On reconciliation, the queen talks in the excerpts of “how small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding ...”
She adds: “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.”
Britain’s regional and political divisions have been exacerbated in the 3-1/2 years since it voted to leave the EU.
A landslide election win for Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson this month enabled him finally to win approval for his Brexit deal in parliament, but also re-awakened calls north of the border for another referendum on Scottish independence.
Newspapers pored over details in the excerpts of the queen’s message and the Times noted that a collection of family photographs on her desk seemed to focus attention on the direct line of succession.
Alongside a framed photograph of her son Charles with his wife Camilla, another showed William with his family including six-year-old Prince George. The queen’s father, the late King George VI, also appeared.
But the collection of photographs did not include any of Harry and his wife Meghan, unlike last year when the queen showed a picture of their wedding, the Times said.
The Daily Mirror noted there was no picture of Andrew either.
The Queen’s message was filmed at Windsor Castle, west of London, and produced by the BBC.
Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by William Schomberg and Alison Williams