The Queen has paid tribute to her retired husband's "unique sense of humour" in her annual Christmas message. In her pre-recorded address, filmed in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace, the Queen praised the Duke of Edinburgh, who retired from solo public duties back in August, for his "support and unique sense of humour". She said: "Even Prince Philip has decided it's time to slow down a little – having, as he economically put it, "done his bit". But I know his support and unique sense of humour will remain as strong as ever, as we enjoy spending time this Christmas with our family and look forward to welcoming new members into it next year."
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The Monarch, wearing an ivory white dress by Angela Kelly, also praised the "powerful identities" of London and Manchester that have "shone through" in the face of terrorist attacks this year. The Queen's message to the nation and the Commonwealth, which was broadcast at 3pm UK time, looked back over the previous 12 months and took "home" as its theme.
"We think of our homes as places of warmth, familiarity and love; of shared stories and memories, which is perhaps why at this time of year so many return to where they grew up. There is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home. For many, the idea of "home" reaches beyond a physical building – to a home town or city.
She continued: "This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past twelve months in the face of appalling attacks. In Manchester, those targeted included children who had gone to see their favourite singer. A few days after the bombing, I had the privilege of meeting some of the young survivors and their parents."
This past year, the nation endured a series of devastating terrorist atrocities, beginning with the Westminster Bridge attack in March that saw four pedestrians die when an attacker, later shot dead by police, drove at them before fatally stabbing a police officer.
In Manchester a few months later 22 people - including children - died when a suicide attacker detonated an explosive device as crowds left Manchester Arena following a performance by US singer Ariana Grande. In June there were more deaths when three terrorists in a van ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge then went on a knife rampage in Borough Market, killing eight in total.
The address traditionally has a strong religious framework reflecting the Queen's faith, and is written by the monarch who draws on current issues and her own experiences over the past year. This year's annual address has been produced by Sky News and was recorded in the palace's 1844 room which is decorated with a large tree and features family photos.
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Pictures of the Queen's great grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, can be seen, along with two wedding related images of the Queen and Philip - but taken 70 years apart. Also featuring in the background is a picture of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, taken the day they announced their engagement to the world.