This Christmas marked the first festive season the Queen has had to spend without her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who sadly passed away last April aged 99.
It would be a difficult moment under any circumstances, but this year, like many people across the world, the Queen was also forced to spend Christmas with fewer family members by her side due to concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant.
Her Majesty has responded to people who sent her Christmas cards during this period with touching letters expressing her gratitude for their support.
A royal fan posted one letter to the Royal Mail Box Instagram account. Penned by lady-in-waiting Annabel Whitehead, the letter reads: "The Queen wishes me to thank you for the message you sent for Christmas and the New Year, which is greatly appreciated.
"Her Majesty has been most grateful for the particular kindness and support shown to her over the past year and I am to thank you very much for your thoughtfulness in writing at this time."
The Queen spent Christmas day with her son, Prince Charles, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
Her Christmas Day broadcast was particularly touching this year, as she chose to share a more personal message about her grief.
"Although it's a time of great happiness and good cheer for many, Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones,” said the Queen. “This year, especially, I understand why."
She continued: "But for me, in the months since the death of my beloved Philip, I have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes to his life and work — from around the country, the Commonwealth and the world.”
Including a moving tribute to her late husband, she said: "His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation – were all irrepressible.
“That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him. But life, of course, consists of final partings as well as first meetings; and as much as I and my family miss him, I know he would want us to enjoy Christmas."
By continuing to open up about her own experience of loss, the Queen is no doubt providing comfort to many others.
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