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Queen Elizabeth II delivers her Christmas message
Image: Getty Images/S. Parsons

Queen urges reconciliation after 'bumpy' year

December 25, 2019

Following a year that saw intense divisions over Brexit, the queen urged the UK to come together in her Christmas message. Young climate activists and Germany's Angela Merkel also received prominent nods in her speech.


Queen Elizabeth II called on Britons to forgive and "set aside past differences" in her annual Christmas speech on Wednesday.

"That path of course is not always smooth and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference," she said.

Although she didn't explicitly mention Brexit, her speech comes on the heels of a divisive general election that saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson secure a majority in Parliament — with the UK now set to leave the European Union at the end of January.

In a rare nod to climate change, Britain's longest-reigning monarch said that she was impressed with young people working to protect the environment.

"The challenges faced today may be different to those once faced by my generation, but I have been struck by how new generations have brought a similar sense of purpose to issues such as protecting our environment and our climate," she noted.

Merkel makes appearance

This year also marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that liberated Europe from Nazi Germany, with Elizabeth noting that former enemies came together for memorial ceremonies this year.

"Such reconciliation seldom happens overnight. It takes patience and time to rebuild trust," she said, adding that progress comes gradually.

Throughout her comments on reconciliation, the video of her speech showed several clips of the queen smiling and speaking with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at various events this year.

Elizabeth looked back at several historic events during her speech, starting with the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing.

She frequently referenced US astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous words when he and the Apollo 11 crew touched down — that it was "a small step for man and a giant leap for mankind."

"And, indeed, for womankind," the queen added, before later returning to the moon landing in a conclusion that focused on the importance of small steps, not just giant leaps.

Turbulent year for UK and royals

The speech also came on the heels of turbulent times for the royal family as well.

Last month, the queen's son Prince Andrew stepped down from public duties following a disastrous BBC interview where he tried to defend his continued friendship with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein after Epstein became a convicted sex offender. 

A warts-and-all documentary on Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, filmed on an official visit to Africa soon after the birth of their son Archie, also showed the couple struggling with the media attention they're facing in Britain and beyond. It culminated with Harry electing in October to take the owners of several British newspapers to court, evoking the treatment his late mother, Princess Diana, received at the hands of the paparazzi in his statement explaining the move.

Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, spent several days in the hospital ahead of Christmas for an unspecified condition, leading to concerns about the 98-year-old's health. He was able to rejoin the family for the festive period.

rs/msh  (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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