TOM HEVEZI/2007 AP
England’s Queen Elizabeth II is due to deliver her annual Christmas speech at 4pm CET on Friday as she and her husband spend the day apart from their family due to coronavirus restrictions.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are celebrating Christmas at Windsor Castle instead of Sandringham, where the royal family usually spends the holiday.
2020 has been a trying year for the United Kingdom and the monarch’s speech is likely to address the hardships of the pandemic, British media reported.
UK among hardest-hit countries
Last Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a variant of the virus that is 70% more transmissible is driving the rapid spread of infections in London and surrounding areas.
As a result, the capital and many other parts of England have seen lockdown restrictions tightened and family holiday gatherings cancelled.
The virus has been blamed for nearly 70,000 deaths in Britain, the second-highest death toll in Europe behind Italy.
Over the past two days, the UK has recorded its two highest daily infection numbers, at just below 40,000.
The monarch, 94, and her husband, Prince Phillip, 98, are in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks, as the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine to those over 80 gets underway in the UK.