LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II has had a trying year.
She will admit as much, it seems, in her annual, prerecorded message that will be broadcast on Christmas Day, when she will call 2019 “quite bumpy,” according to excerpts released on Tuesday by Buckingham Palace.
Though it was not clear exactly what the queen was referring to, a quick overview of 2019 explains why it might have felt rough at times.
In January, her husband, Prince Philip, apologized after he was involved in a car crash that left two women injured, sparking a public debate on older drivers. He agreed to relinquish his driver’s license.
A few weeks later, her grandson Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, went public about their emotional struggles in a candid interview filmed during their official tour of Africa. The couple’s environmental activism was questioned over their use of private jets, and Prince Harry and his brother, Prince William, were unable to shake off headlines of a rumored rift in their relationship.
But the biggest challenge for the royal family came in November, when Prince Andrew, the queen’s second-oldest son, stepped down from his public duties after he gave a catastrophic interview to the BBC about his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
“Quite bumpy” sounds less awful than “annus horribilis,” as she once called 1992 — the year when the marriages of three of her four children broke down, including that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and fire damaged Windsor Castle. But her description of 2019 makes clear that it has been tougher than 2018, which she characterized in last year’s Christmas broadcast simply as a “busy year.”
The bumps of 2019 have continued into the final days of the year. After the queen recorded her message, Prince Philip, 98, was admitted to a London hospital for what Buckingham Palace described as a precautionary measure to treat a pre-existing condition. He left on Tuesday, after spending four nights there.
Though she is not expected to get into specifics in her address, the queen will focus on the importance of reconciliation — a notion that could apply both to her family and to Britain. The country, which has just emerged from a general election, has been scarred by divisive politics surrounding the Brexit debate, including renewed calls for Scottish independence and concerns about weakened ties to Northern Ireland.
The queen is to say that “small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding,” according to a statement from the palace.
“The 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 is to add.
She is also refer to the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which was commemorated in June by world leaders, including President Trump and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, in a ceremony that the queen hosted in Portsmouth, a port city in southern England.
As head of state, the British monarch is expected to remain publicly neutral on political matters, and the queen’s addresses tend to be broad, anodyne and even a little opaque. Her talk this year of reconciliation between wartime “sworn enemies” could be taken as advice to political parties and opponents in the Brexit fight, as well as nations. (Jeremy Corbyn, the exiting leader of the opposition Labour Party, suggested earlier this month that he does not usually watch the Christmas address.)
“By being willing to put past differences behind us and move forward together, we honor the freedom and democracy once won for us at so great a cost,” she is to say.
The BBC is scheduled to broadcast her Christmas address at 3 p.m. local time on Christmas Day.
It was filmed in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, with the queen sitting at a desk decorated by family photographs, a picture released by the palace shows. Prince Harry, Meghan and their 7-month-old son, Archie, were nowhere to be seen — an absence that is sure to be parsed by the British tabloids, which are always eager to seize on a hint of dissension among the royals.
The couple will also be absent from the royal Christmas at Sandringham House, the queen’s country estate in Norfolk, England, as they are spending the holidays in Canada. They shared their Christmas card on social media on Tuesday.
Michael Wolgelenter contributed reporting.