King Charles III gave his first Christmas Day speech addressing the nation in a recorded message from St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, which is of course the resting place of his mother, and late Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away in September.
It was the Queen who was very much the innovator of the televised Christmas Day royal address and as she often did, Charles made the point of supporting a multi-faith approach to religion. He was respectful of his mother’s delivery, but made some subtle changes by standing up throughout, rather than the formal style of Her Majesty, which was to speak from behind a desk.
In the 15 minute piece he paid tribute to the former monarch, as well as reflecting upon the current cost-of-living crisis, and acknowledging the hardship facing many who are struggling to make ends meet. The short broadcast was accompanied by some images of charities giving food to the homeless and volunteers helping at a food bank.
In addition there were pictures of other royals shown, including the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Earl of Wessex, and the Princess Royal. Noticeably Prince Harry and Meghan, as well as Prince Andrew were not featured, as they are no longer “working” royals.
There was praise heaped upon the emergency services, together with teachers and health and social care staff; before moving on to explain how moved he had been to go to the birthplace of Christ in Bethlehem, saying how much it meant to him to stand on that particularly “special” spot.
Tradition started by King’s Great Grandfather
The tradition of a Christmas Day speech dates back 90 years, with the first royal Christmas broadcast delivered on the radio in 1932 by George V. The first televised broadcast was presented by the late Queen in 1957.
Speech acknowledges public support after death of Queen Elizabeth
The King had opened his address by thanking people for what he referred to as the many “deeply touching letters, cards and messages sent to my wife and myself” after the sad death of the Queen. He mentioned how particularly poignant Christmas time is for everyone who has lost someone close. “We feel their absence at every familiar turn of the season and remember them in each cherished tradition, ” he said.
Faith in people compassion
He then spoke of his late mother’s faith in not only God, but also her faith in people and he said: “It is one which I share with my whole heart.” Going on to say how it is a belief in the extraordinary ability of each person to touch, with goodness and compassion, the lives of others, and to shine a light in the world around them. “This is the essence of our community and the very foundation of our society.”
Praise for the Emergency Services and Armed Forces
He outlined the selfless dedication of the Armed Forces and Emergency Services who work tirelessly to keep everyone safe, and who he said performed magnificently as the country mourned the passing of the late Queen.
He mentioned all those around the world facing conflict, famine or natural disasters, before bringing it all the way back home to speak about everyone who is currently having difficulties in finding ways to pay their bills and keep their families fed and warm.
Tributes paid to those who give up their time for others
Paying tribute to the humanity of people throughout all the nations and across the Commonwealth who so readily respond to the plight of others, he especially talked about the wonderfully kind people who so generously give food or donations, or what he described as that most precious commodity of all, their time, to support those around them in greatest need.
Charities also commended
The many charitable organizations which do such extraordinary work in the most difficult circumstances, also received notable recognition.
He continued: “Our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras, have once again united in feeding the hungry, providing love and support throughout the year; such heartfelt solidarity is the most inspiring expression of loving our neighbour as our self.”
Hope for the future
He acknowledged that Christmas is a Christian celebration, but made the point that the power of light overcoming darkness is celebrated across the boundaries of faith and belief, and that he concluded, was where people could find hope for the future.
He finished by saying: “With all my heart, I wish each of you a Christmas of peace, happiness and everlasting light.”
Meeting the public in Sandringham for first time in three years
Earlier in the day the King had greeted crowds at Sandringham after attending a Christmas Day church service for the first time as the monarch. Camilla, William, Kate, their children and other senior royals had attended St Mary Magdalene Church, close to the Norfolk estate. It had been the first time members of the Royal Family had spent Christmas at Sandringham House since 2019, due to the last two years being cancelled because of Covid restrictions.
It has been the private home of British monarchs for more than 160 years.