Although it’s a time of great happiness and good cheer for many, Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones.

I have come to understand this year why.

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.

He was irrepressible in his sense of service and intellectual curiosity, as well as his ability to make fun of every situation.

The mischievous twinkle of his curious, inquisitive eye was still as shining at the end than when he first appeared to me.

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.

As we prepared for Christmas, millions of people around the globe felt his presence.

While Covid again means we can’t celebrate quite as we may have wished, we can still enjoy the many happy traditions.

Be it the singing of carols – as long as the tune is well known – decorating the tree, giving and receiving presents, or watching a favourite film where we already know the ending, it’s no surprise that families so often treasure their Christmas routines.

As these values are often passed down from generation to generation, we see how our children, and their families, embrace them.

It is something I can see in my family, and it brings me great joy.

The sense that the baton should be passed was something Prince Philip always kept in mind.

That’s why he created The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which offers young people throughout the Commonwealth and beyond the chance of exploration and adventure.

This remarkable success is still rooted in faith for the future.

He was also an early champion of taking seriously our stewardship of the environment, and I am proud beyond words that his pioneering work has been taken on and magnified by our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William – admirably supported by Camilla and Catherine – most recently at the COP climate change summit in Glasgow.

The Commonwealth Games are next year’s highlight.

The baton is traveling the length and breadths of the Commonwealth at the moment, with the goal of reaching Birmingham, the beacon of hope along its way.

This will allow us to recognize the accomplishments of athletes as well as the joining of nations with like minds.

And February, just six weeks from now, will see the start of my Platinum Jubilee year, which I hope will be an opportunity for people everywhere to enjoy a sense of togetherness, a chance to give thanks for the enormous changes of the last 70 years – social, scientific and cultural – and also to look ahead with confidence.

Someone will probably comment that Christmas is a time to be jolly.

It’s an engaging truth, but only half the story.

Perhaps it’s truer to say that Christmas can speak to the child within us all.

When adults are too worried, they sometimes lose sight of simple pleasures that children see.

For me, my family and I, even with one missing laugh this year, Christmas will bring us joy as we get the opportunity to reflect on the past and to see the beauty of the season through the eyes our four young children.

They teach us all a lesson – just as the Christmas story does – that in the birth of a child, there is a new dawn with endless potential.

It is this simplicity of the Christmas story that makes it so universally appealing, simple happenings that formed the starting point of the life of Jesus – a man whose teachings have been handed down from generation to generation, and have been the bedrock of my faith.

His birth represented a new beginning.

As the carol says: ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.’

Merry Christmas to you all!