Many just want a hug for Christmas this year, says Queen Elizabeth

LONDON (Reuters) – All many wish for Christmas this year is a simple hug, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth said in her annual message, saying that those who lost loved ones will be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic or be marginalized by social interference.

A dateless photo reissued by Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George in 2019, preparing special Christmas puddings at the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, London, UK, which Reuters received on Monday 21. December 2020 Chris Jackson / Handbook via REUTERS

In her traditional pre-recorded Christmas address to the nation, the 94-year-old monarch has repeatedly spoken of hope for the future, while acknowledging that millions of Britons will not be able to have their usual family celebrations this year.

“Of course, for many, this time of year will be colored by sadness; some mourn the loss of loved ones, and others missing friends and family members distanced for safety when all they really want for Christmas is a simple hug or handshake, ”Elizabeth said.

“If you are among them, you are not alone. And let me assure you of my thoughts and prayers. “

The Queen herself had to avoid her traditional Christmas celebrations, and spends the holiday season peacefully at Windsor Castle with her husband Prince Philip (99).

Usually all the Windsors gather at her home on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, and a walk to a nearby church for a Christmas service is a major thing on the royal calendar.

However, Britain is currently struggling to curb the spread of a new variant of the new coronavirus, with the number of new infections reaching record levels this week and the number of hospital admissions and deaths rising.

Much of the country is placed under strict restrictions, and for London and surrounding areas households are not allowed to mix at all during Christmas, while for other areas there are strict restrictions that limit contact to just one day.

“Exceptionally, the year that separated us people brought us closer in many ways,” the queen said, adding that the royal families were inspired by the stories of those who volunteered to help others in need.

“In the UK and around the world, people have faced the challenges of the year brilliantly and I am so proud and touched by this quiet unbridled spirit.”

Report by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge