Queen Elizabeth praises key workers in Xmas speech

In her traditional pre-recorded Christmas Day address to the nation, the 94-year-old monarch repeatedly spoke of hope for the future whilst acknowledging millions of Britons would be unable to have their usual family celebrations this year.

The Queen herself has had to eschew her traditional Christmas celebrations, and is spending the festive season quietly at Windsor Castle with her husband Prince Philip, 99.

Usually, all the Windsors gather at her home on the Sandringham estate in eastern England. The walk to a nearby church for a Christmas Day service is a staple of the royal calendar.

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

Much of the country has been placed under tight restrictions, and for London and the surrounding areas, households are not allowed to mix at all over Christmas, while for other areas there are strict curbs limiting contact to just a single day.