One sense is that it doesn’t matter much what the Queen really says during her Christmas Day broadcast.

What matters is that she was there to chat with us, whether it be in the snug or around our kitchen tables, but the important thing is that we have her company.

The strange magic that she is there but not there.

The Queen records her annual Christmas broadcast in Windsor Castle this year

This year, the Queen broadcasts her Christmas broadcast at Windsor Castle

Let the antimonarchists laugh! Of course we all realise that it’s an illusion – that she recorded the message several days ago.

Yesterday, we were able to hear her words from the heart.

This was not a Christmas broadcast. The Queen has been a part of our lives for many years and we have gotten to know her better. This year, she was more open than ever. It’s been an exciting time in history.

The heart of the matter is that, once a year, we get the chance to look at her close up, with the lines around her eyes and all the signals that mark the features of a 95-year-old lady – excuse me, Your Majesty.

You can zoom in on her, get up close and personal. This allows you to make your own assessment of how she appears and what she has to say about the pressures she faces in 2021.

Yesterday, she looked very healthy. She looked great yesterday.

But her vibrant red dress made a statement of another kind – that she’ll be carrying on with all the ‘sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation’ with which Philip inspired her.

She recalled that he had a mischievous, inquisitive twinkle and was as brilliant at the end of his story as when he first caught my eye.

We’ve received exhortations from politicians over the 21 months of Covid torture, but nothing can compare to Queen Elizabeth’s April 2020 speech, “We’ll Meet Again”.

It’s no wonder that her photo in the bright green dress was splashed all across Piccadilly Circus for several days. Yesterday, she nodded her head at the pandemic but kept the focus on the individual.

It is wonderful to know that Her Majesty, just like us, can’t enjoy Christmas songs unless the tune’s well-known.

She also enjoys, as many families, watching a favorite film with a familiar ending.

It’s important to remember that Elizabeth II was present at the beginning, when George V, Elizabeth’s beloved grandfather, gave Britain its first Royal broadcast in December 1932. Six years old.

Her name was Lilibet, by the old gruff king. He was called Grandpa England by her. Today, she is our own Grandma England.

The Queen and Prince Philip (pictured) enjoyed similar spiritual discussions with John Sentamu when he was Bishop of Stepney

Pictured: The Queen and Prince Philip had similar discussions about spirituality with John Sentamu, when he was Bishop at Stepney.

She shared her belief that the birth of a baby is an opportunity to see a new day with unlimited 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.’

The Queen likes to remind us every year what Christmas is all about – and that reminds us that she is a believing and practising Christian who prays and reads her Bible every day.

Many TV viewers like to knock the historical accuracy of the Netflix series The Crown – and I should know, I’m its Historical Consultant! – but I defy anyone to provide a more telling depiction of the Queen’s religious faith than the episode in which screenwriter Peter Morgan portrays Her Majesty’s unlikely friendship with the American hot-gospeller Billy Graham, whom she would invite to preach in Windsor’s St George’s Chapel.

When the evangelist told her afterwards over a chatty lunch that he had almost based that day’s sermon on Christ’s healing of the crippled man – ‘Arise, take up thy bed and walk!’ – her eyes sparkled. She exclaimed, “I wish that you had!” Her exclamation was, “That’s my favorite story!”

Prince Philip and the Queen had spiritual talks with John Sentamu while he was Bishop at Stepney. Sikhs and Muslims are not alienated by hearing about the emphatic Christian strand within Royal make-up.

They are actually in favor of a Monarchy headed by a woman who believes, even though the world is increasingly secular.

We were told yesterday by the Queen that Jesus’ teachings “have been the foundation of my faith.”

And this personal faith is the reason why she can celebrate Christmas and the year of her Platinum Jubilee that lies ahead with such joy – ‘even with one familiar laugh missing’.

Before her ascendance to the Throne was born, Princess Elizabeth had helped King George VI (her father with speech difficulties) by giving him Christmas addresses.

In 1939, when Britain faced a war threat, at 13 years of age, the poet ‘God Knows’ captured some of the promise and mystery that would be her Christmas message: ‘Go into the dark, and give your hand to the Hands of God.

We’re going to miss such inspiring personal insights into the thinking of this remarkable woman when it’s a male Monarch who pops up on our screens after Christmas lunch – as seems likely to be the case for the rest of this 21st Century. Let’s all enjoy Grandma England’s Christmas wisdom while we still can.

Duckworth Overlook published Robert Lacey’s “A Brief Life of The Queen”.