SOLDIERING on with a stiff upper lip and showing no self-pity, our monarch has had one of the hardest years of her life.

But despite being our sovereign, she will be like any other 95-year-old — in need of the warmth and sanctuary of her close family.


After the past 12 months our Queen deserves a happy Christmas. Yet one fears she will have anything but.

For the first time since her marriage to Prince Philip in 1947, she will be a widow grieving the loss of her lifetime soulmate.

At the same time, she is submerged by problems caused by her children and grandchildren.

In addition to her personal problems, her weekly private meetings with Boris Johnson require Britain’s most experienced monarch since Queen Victoria to advise the unpredictable PM on how to navigate the unprecedented challenges he faces.

Above all, she has the unenviable duty to remain Britain’s impeccable symbol of national unity, holding together fractious people grappling with uncertainty.

One bright event in her diary will be next year’s celebration of 70 years on the throne. The Platinum Jubilee in May promises to be an unforgettable party, bringing together 67million Brits to glory in the country’s history and achievements, and recognise her huge contribution.

But before that much-anticipated anniversary, she needs to navigate through tumult which would challenge any person, but is surely daunting for a woman of her age.

This year she anticipates a quiet Christmas. Without Prince Philip, the fear of soaring prices and shortages, and in the wake of so many Covid deaths, she senses the nation’s mood is not to celebrate wildly.

Christmas at Sandringham has always been among the Queen’s most enjoyable weeks. Hosting her extended family of more than 20 people, she enjoyed the lunches, giving “silly” presents and playing games.

The family’s appearance at church on Christmas morning has always drawn many loyal Britons and is always recorded by the media.

However, compared with previous years, this year’s family photos will spark recollections of unceasing bitterness and scandal among those closest to her.

Without Prince Philip, the fear of soaring prices and shortages, and in the wake of so many Covid deaths, she senses the nation’s mood is not to celebrate wildly

It is also plausible that the Queen may spend her first Christmas away from her Norfolk residence — a place which holds so many festive memories — and opt to stay in Balmoral.

Unfortunately for the Queen, Prince Harry’s publicists in Los Angeles are already playing games with his grandmother’s arrangements.

Despite accusing his family in a global TV interview of meanness, prejudice and racism, Harry is hoping that he, Meghan and their two children may spend Christmas at Sandringham.

Few believe that Meghan will ever return to Britain, not least because her presence would be as welcome as a vampire in a blood bank.

But the Sussexes, to maintain their commercial and political value, constantly invent gimmicks and stage events to stay in the public eye.

Two weeks ago, they orchestrated a successful “royal” visit to New York.
The Queen’s advisers were powerless as the Sussexes, over three days, convinced many Americans they were still important members of the Royal Family.

Hanging over the Queen is the threat of Harry’s biography, to be published next year. In return for his huge advance, he will be expected to throw dirt at his family.

Even more troubling for the Queen at Christmas will be the difficulties of middle son Andrew.

Said by some to be her favourite, Andrew’s behaviour threatens to destabilise the monarchy.

For several weeks, he foolishly sought to avoid the service of a writ by American lawyers acting for Virginia Giuffre to appear in a New York court and answer a civil claim.

Giuffre alleges Andrew sexually assaulted her on at least three occasions while she was under-age, according to US law.

The photograph of Giuffre, with Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell in the background, is utterly damning.

Of course, Andrew denies knowing Giuffre and claims the photo, allegedly taken in Maxwell’s house, is doctored.

Selfishly, Andrew involved the Queen in his forlorn attempt to avoid justice.
Acute embarrassment

It is a scandal that has even angered the usually unflappable Prince William, who it emerged last night sees Andrew as a “threat to the family” and “ungracious and ungrateful”.

William is believed to have said there is “no way in the world his uncle is ever coming back” into public duties.

The Queen’s great challenge is partly solved by promoting the hugely popular William and Kate as the true inheritors of the monarchy

His undignified antics involved hiding with his mother in Balmoral, her remote Scottish estate.

After a New York judge crushed his subterfuge, Andrew is now at the mercy of American justice.

Cruel and unsympathetic towards the rich accused of sexual offences, two American trials are likely to scrutinise Andrew’s close friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell — to the Queen’s acute embarrassment.

The first trial starts in New York next month. Maxwell is accused of procuring under-age girls for Jeffrey Epstein, the investment manager and convicted paedophile who died in prison awaiting trial.

Many doubt that Epstein took his own life. He was murdered, they claim, to silence a man who knew about the sleaze and sins of the rich and famous.

No relationship was more destined to destroy Andrew as his Epstein friendship.

The famous photograph of them walking together after his release from a Florida prison, the video of Andrew waving farewell to a girl from inside Epstein’s New York mansion and his catastrophic BBC interview has sealed the world’s damning judgment about Andrew.

The conversations in Balmoral between the Queen and Andrew are difficult to imagine. Wouldn’t any mother side with her son’s protestations of innocence?

Certainly, a 95-year-old, despite her remarkable mental agility, would be persuaded that money-grasping American lawyers are eager to fill their pockets by embarrassing the Crown.

By now, millions of pounds have been pledged by the Queen to hire ferocious lawyers to defend Andrew.

By engaging in the vicious battle, the Queen must be aware that her son’s reckless behaviour is causing huge damage to the monarchy.

By refusing to disappear completely from the public eye Andrew has made himself even more vulnerable to the New York court’s judgment.

The outcome is certainly bleak, not just for him but also the monarchy. The perils are real.

Seediness and sensation will dominate Maxwell’s trial. Andrew is certain to be mentioned as an alleged participant in Epstein’s cesspit.

But despite being our sovereign, she will be like any other 95-year-old — in need of the warmth and sanctuary of her close family

In the second trial, Giuffre’s demand for at least $10million from Andrew will end with a New York judge’s verdict. That judgment could wreck the monarchy’s important reputation in America.

For the Queen, much loved in America and a symbol of Britain’s global reputation for honesty and decency, that would be devastating.

For decades she has been involved in that face-to-face contact with politicians and the public which has secured loyalty to the Crown and Britain.

Unfortunately, the alleged antics of Andrew and Harry are jeopardising Her Majesty’s achievements over a lifetime.

The continuation of the constitutional monarchy depends on staying above controversy. Too often the golden periods have been trampled down by “troubles”.

Many forget that the Queen, as head of the nation, has provided the sense of stability through the dark days during her reign — in the 1970s and mid-Nineties — when the country was racked by self-doubt and questioning its purpose.

The worst of those troubled times was 1992, as she struggled through what she called her “annus horribilis”, a year wrecked by three family marriage break-ups and a fire at Windsor Castle.

The Queen’s skill was to rescue the monarchy from those crises and rebuild trust and affection.

She had always stayed calm, listened to advice, agreed to carefully controlled change and spoken rarely but wisely.

The Palace’s non-confrontational rebuttal of the untruths uttered by Meghan Markle in her Oprah TV interview — “recollections may vary” — was pure genius.

The nation still believes that the Queen can do no wrong.

Her challenge now, alone and without Philip’s sage advice, is to prepare the nation for her heirs.

Unfortunately, the alleged antics of Andrew and Harry are jeopardising Her Majesty’s incredible achievements over a lifetime

No one is more aware of the dangers than Prince Charles.

He is still under attack for selling access to himself in return for allegedly giving honours to dubious foreign billionaires financing his charities.

Facing a crisis about his reliability and judgment, three key officials have resigned or been suspended. The suspension of Michael Fawcett, the Prince’s indispensable aide, kindles a stench of financial rottenness in his house-hold, which risks becoming another irremovable stain on the royals.

Charles is accused by those close to the Queen of destroying the romance of the monarchy.

Over the past 50 years, the Queen has suffered in silence as Charles crossed the line and dabbled in the politics of the environment, agriculture, architecture and more.

Unwilling to stick to his mother’s strict impartiality, he endangered the constitutional demand of the monarch’s neutrality. Amid huge rows, he got away with it — just.

But the new sleaze allegations against her two eldest sons, the Queen surely knows, have jeopardised Charles’s reputation and public support that he should be Britain’s next king.

In the febrile atmosphere in the palaces, the Queen must fear that more scandal could spell the end of the Prince’s long-cherished dream to unveil the reign of Charles III.

Charles knows the importance of quashing the accusations and removing the taint of sleaze. So does the Queen. But time is short.

Many forget that the Queen, as head of the nation, has provided the sense of stability and continuity through the dark days during her reign

The Queen’s great challenge is partly solved by promoting the hugely popular William and Kate as the true inheritors of the monarchy.

The successful endorsement of the couple has undoubtedly saved the monarchy from the worst. They and their children embody the future.

It is thanks to the Queen’s foresight that Britain knows it can rely on William and Kate.

In the near future, the Queen also knows that a successful Platinum celebration will strengthen support.

After that week, perhaps she will feel she deserves a rest.

The nation trusts the monarch above everyone else. By now, she knows her presence is invaluable.

But as the royals sit down for Christmas dinner contemplating the feast before them, the Queen will also be considering the future after one of the most troubling periods of her 69-year reign.




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