Queen uses Christmas speech to officially welcome Meghan Markle into Royal family
As she spends her first Christmas with the in-laws, Meghan Markle could be forgiven a few nerves about how she will fit in. Come 3pm on Christmas Day, as she settled down in front of the television, any lingering fears were allayed in some style, as the Queen used her Christmas message to officially welcome her into the family.
Displaying a photograph of Prince Harry and Ms Markle as they celebrated their engagement in the garden of Kensington Palace, the Queen said she is looking forward to welcoming new members of the family in 2018. Ms Markle, of course, will be one of them, as well as a new Prince or Princess for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, due in April.
The Prince and his fiance, who will wed at Windsor Castle in May, are spending their first Christmas together with the Royal Family at Sandringham. Ms Markle’s inclusion has been widely interpreted as a relaxation of convention, which usually sees new members of the family invited only when they are married.
The Queen also marked Catherine Middleton’s introduction into the family in her Christmas message, speaking only after the wedding in 2011 to acknowledge the “the marriages of two of our grandchildren”: Prince William to Miss Middleton, and Zara Phillips to Mike Tindall. This year, in a poignant speech about her family, the Queen also paid tribute to her husband, the 96-year-old Duke of Edinburgh, in the year of their 70th anniversary, highlighting his “unique sense of humour”. Acknowledging events for Britain this year, including terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire, she said difficult times made her “grateful for the blessings of home and family, and in particular for 70 years of marriage”. “I don’t know that anyone had invented the term “platinum” for a 70th wedding anniversary when I was born,” she said.
“You weren’t expected to be around that long. Even Prince Philip has decided it’s time to slow down a little – having, as he economically put it, “done his bit”.
“But I know his support and unique sense of humour will remain as strong as ever, as we enjoy spending time this Christmas with our family and look forward to welcoming new members into it next year.”
The subject of family was emphasised, as usual, with an array of photographs in Buckingham Palace’s 1844 room including the Queen and Prince Philip’s 1947 wedding photograph and their official portrait to mark their 70th wedding anniversary this year.
Pictures of her great-grandchildren Prince George and Princess Charlotte were also on display, along with pictures of Prince Harry and Ms Markle, and one shot of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall taken this year by Mario Testino.
Describing the extraordinary changes her record-breaking reign has seen, the Queen referenced her first Christmas broadcast, 60 years ago, in which “a young woman spoke about the speed of technological change as she presented the first television broadcast of its kind”.
“Six decades on, the presenter has ‘evolved’ somewhat, as has the technology she described,” she added. “Back then, who could have imagined that people would one day be watching this on laptops and mobile phones – as some of you are today. “But I’m also struck by something that hasn’t changed. That, whatever the technology, many of you will be watching this at home.”
She continued: “For many, the idea of “home” reaches beyond a physical building – to a home town or city. “This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past twelve months in the face of appalling attacks. “In Manchester, those targeted included children who had gone to see their favourite singer. A few days after the bombing, I had the privilege of meeting some of the young survivors and their parents.
“I describe that hospital visit as a “privilege” because the patients I met were an example to us all, showing extraordinary bravery and resilience. “Indeed, many of those who survived the attack came together just days later for a benefit concert. It was a powerful reclaiming of the ground, and of the city those young people call home.
Meghan Markle grid; The Queen added: “We expect our homes to be a place of safety – “sanctuary” even – which makes it all the more shocking when the comfort they provide is shattered. “A few weeks ago, The Prince of Wales visited the Caribbean in the aftermath of hurricanes that destroyed entire communities.
“And here in London, who can forget the sheer awfulness of the Grenfell Tower fire?”
About | Royal Christmas message
Looking ahead to 2018, the Queen emphasised the importance of her beloved Commonwealth, with the Commonwealth Games in Australia and Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London coming in the spring. Concluding her televised message for this year, she said: “Whatever your own experiences this year; wherever and however you are watching, I wish you a peaceful and very happy Christmas.”