Another year is rapidly drawing to the close and, for the royals, that brings many end-of-year traditions. One of the most famous, of course, is the Queen’s annual speech on Christmas Day. Each year, the monarch, 93, reflects on the past 12 months in the life of the royal family (and, in a much broader context, globally), offering insight and words of wisdom heading into a fresh 365 days. And while the message for 2019 was ultimately uplifting, Queen Elizabeth readily acknowledged that it wasn’t a year without its challenges.
As is customary, the Queen recorded the speech in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, surrounded by personal family photos. The theme of the speech? Reconciliation, it would seem. Referencing the 75th anniversary of D-Day, she noted how post-battle, “in the true spirit of reconciliation, those who had formerly been sworn enemies came together in friendly commemorations… putting past differences behind them.” She would bring up the notion of reconciliation again while discussing the life of Jesus Christ, stressing that “many small steps taken in faith and hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding.”
The Queen then applied the idea to the present, noting that reconciliation could be the answer to problems presented in 2019. “The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy,” she said. “But small steps can make a world of difference.”
Although the Queen could be alluding to any number of things — Brexit, rising tension over the United States’ current administration, and more — it’s hard not to presume she’s at least hinting at discord within the royal family. As has already been pointed out and analyzed all over the internet, the personal photos behind the monarch during her speech did not include Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (also missing, far more understandably, is Prince Andrew).
Rumors of a rift in the royal family have run rampant this year, with Prince Harry even outright admitting he and Prince William were “on different paths.” Despite the Palace issuing statements to the contrary, recent reports suggest that the Queen was disappointed in Harry and Meghan’s decision to spend Christmas in Canada with baby Archie.
But, as these things go, it’s impossible to say precisely what is going on in the royal family without a member of the monarchy confirming as much. And even if there is a rift, the Queen’s annual speech makes it seem as though she’s intent on bridging the divide.
Queen Elizabeth’s full Christmas broadcast will be released on Dec. 25 at 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT.