Queen shares never before seen picture of her husband Prince Philip during Christmas message

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3 min read

Watch: Queen offers personal message of hope in Christmas Day address

The Queen has shared a picture of her husband from her private collection as she gave her Christmas Day message to the Commonwealth.

The photos on Her Majesty’s desk are usually pored over in the hours that follow her message on 25 December, but this year the Queen has kept it simple with just one image of her husband.

Last year, there was much said after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were left off the Queen’s desk as they spent Christmas in Canada with their son Archie. A few weeks later, they announced they intended to step back as senior royals.

This year, the Queen chose just one picture, showing Philip in a blue jumper with a white shirt, smiling as he looks off camera.

It’s not known when or where the picture was taken, but it is from her private collection.

Usually photos seen behind the royals are either formally released images or taken from royal tours or engagements, making this a particularly special image.

The Queen has spent much of this year in Windsor Castle with her husband Philip, the most time they have been able to spend with one another in some years.

EMBARGOED: not for publication in any territory before 1500 LOCAL TIME. No use after 24 January 2021 without the prior written consent of The Communications Secretary to The Queen at Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth II records her annual Christmas broadcast in Windsor Castle, Berkshire.
A close-up of the image the Queen used of her husband on the desk, for her Christmas message. (PA)

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Philip, now 99, retired from official duties in 2017 and has been living in Wood Farm, in Sandringham.

But in March, when the Queen retreated to Windsor from Buckingham Palace, he was flown down from Norfolk to join her.

And though they had some time in Balmoral, and a brief trip to Sandringham together, he stuck by her side and went back to Windsor with her in the autumn.

They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in November, during the second nationwide lockdown, sharing a picture of them looking over the cards they had received, including a handmade one from their great-grandchildren, Princes George and Louis, and Princess Charlotte.

One royal watcher said: “I love that the focus is on the year and she’s only included Phillip.”

Sarane Leeds said: “This year, the Queen does away with the usual speculation over which family members are in favor and which ones aren’t. Just a single, solitary photo of Prince Philip.”

EMBARGOED: not for publication in any territory before 1500 LOCAL TIME. No use after 24 January 2021 without the prior written consent of The Communications Secretary to The Queen at Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth II records her annual Christmas broadcast in Windsor Castle, Berkshire.
Queen Elizabeth II records her annual Christmas broadcast in Windsor Castle, Berkshire. (PA)

One said: “Also, can we just adore that the Queen only had a picture of Prince Philip on her table this year?”

Some called it “sweet” while others suggested she didn’t “want trouble”.

The Queen wore a rich purple dress by Angela Kelly for the broadcast, with the Queen Mother diamond and mother of pearl shell brooch.

The brooch was worn by her mother on several occasions through her life, including her 100th birthday in 2000.

Since her death, the Queen has worn it at a number of events, including her granddaughter Zara Tindall’s wedding, and the celebrations for her 60th year on the throne.

The Queen Mother wearing the brooch on her 100th birthday, 4 August 2000. (Gerry Penny/AFP)
The Queen Mother wearing the brooch on her 100th birthday, 4 August 2000. (Gerry Penny/AFP)
Queen Elizabeth II wearing her late mother's brooch for the wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall in 2011. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II wearing her late mother's brooch for the wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall in 2011. (PA)

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In her message for 2020, the Queen reflected on the difficult year, citing all the religious events and occasions that could not be celebrated in the same way.

She offered her own thoughts and prayers to those who were marking Christmas Day alone, and praised the “indomitable spirit” of those who have responded to the pandemic.

The message was recorded at Windsor Castle, in the Green Drawing Room, with the Queen joined by two cameramen and one other crew member during the filming.