"For Christians, Jesus is 'the light of the world,' but we can’t celebrate his birth today in quite the usual way," she said in the beginning of her address. "People of all faiths have been unable to gather as they would wish for their festivals, such as Passover, Easter, Eid, and Vaisakhi. But we need life to go on."
The speech was filmed in Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle. The queen wore an Angela Kelly rich purple dress, the Queen Mother diamond and mother of pearl shell brooch.
She spoke of being inspired by people volunteering across the U.K. to help their communities.
"In the United Kingdom and around the world, people have risen magnificently to the challenges of the year, and I am so proud and moved by this quiet, indomitable spirit," she said. "To our young people in particular I say thank you for the part you have played."
The Queen also reflected on the celebration of International Nurses' Day earlier this year and thanked frontline workers and the achievements of modern science.
"Good Samaritans have emerged across society showing care and respect for all, regardless of gender, race or background, reminding us that each one of us is special and equal in the eyes of God," she added.
Queen Elizabeth did not shy away from acknowledging the great mourning experienced this year. More than 1.7 million people have died of COVID-19 around the world; nearly 70,000 have died in the U.K.
"For many, this time of year will be tinged with sadness: some mourning the loss of those dear to them, and others missing friends and family members distanced for safety, when all they’d really want for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand. If you are among them, you are not alone, and let me assure you of my thoughts and prayers."
The queen and the rest of the royal family typically gather at Sandrigham for the Christmas holiday and attend church, but the pandemic altered those plans this year. The queen and Prince Philip are spending the holiday at Windsor Castle without their relatives.
The Royal Family posted a video of the St. George's Chapel choir singing earlier in the day.
🎄 🎶 Wishing all our followers a very Merry Christmas!
🎥 St George’s Chapel choir sing ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’.
The Chapel, situated in the grounds of Windsor Castle, has a unique Royal history. Find out more: https://t.co/zB4IbaTcbi pic.twitter.com/dYDvfKW4Cx
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) December 25, 2020
Other members of the Royal Family shared messages this Christmas, too.
"Wishing you all a happy Christmas and here’s to a better New Year!" Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla wrote on Twitter. The couple, along with actors such as Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Hardy, participated in a reading of Clement Clarke Moore's 1823 Christmas poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," in a video posted Thursday.
This Christmas our thoughts are with those of you who are spending today alone, those of you who are mourning the loss of a loved one, and those of you on the frontline who are still mustering the energy to put your own lives on hold to look after the rest of us. pic.twitter.com/VvW3rV4fRz
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) December 25, 2020
"This Christmas our thoughts are with those of you who are spending today alone, those of you who are mourning the loss of a loved one, and those of you on the frontline who are still mustering the energy to put your own lives on hold to look after the rest of us," Prince William and Duchess Kate wrote on Twitter. "Wishing a merry Christmas doesn’t feel right this year, so instead we’re wishing for a better 2021." They also listed organizations people can reach out to if they're struggling.
William's brother Harry released a Christmas card earlier this week featuring his wife Meghan, son Archie and the couple's dogs.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Queen Elizabeth II talks hope amid pandemic in Christmas speech