The Queen has delivered her annual Christmas speech to the nation and the Commonwealth this afternoon, focusing on the theme of home and family, whilst praising the cities of London and Manchester for their resilience following terror attacks this year and paying tribute to her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh.
The speech, recorded a few days ago in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace, began with The National Anthem being sung by The Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir, comprising 52 children representing each nation of the Commonwealth.
The Monarch’s opening remarks referred to herself, who as a young woman 60 years ago made her first Christmas speech on television, and at that time remarked at the “speed of technological change” at the acknowledgment that more and more homes then were getting television sets installed.
Coming back to the present day, The Queen dryly remarked that “six decades on, the presenter has evolved somewhat as has the technology she described. Back then, who could have imagined that people would be watching this on laptops and mobile phones as some of you are today?”
Moving to the theme at the heart of her message she continued: “But I am also struck by something that hasn’t changed, that whatever the technology, many of you will be watching this at home. We think of out homes as places of warmth, familiarity and love…there is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home.”
“For many the idea of home reaches beyond a physical building to a home town or city.”
The Monarch continued by saying this Christmas her thoughts turned to the cities of Manchester and London “whose powerful identities shone through in the last 12 months in the face of the most appalling attacks”.
As Her Majesty referred to the children who were victims of the terror attack in Manchester, the film cut to footage showing her visit the survivors and victims earlier in the year. She described that visit as a privilege because “the patients I met were an example to us all, showing extraordinary bravery and resilience.”
Moving to disasters in the Caribbean the Grenfell Tower fire, the 91-year-old went on: “We expect our homes to be places of safety, sanctuary even, which makes it all the more shocking when the comfort they provide is shattered.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who died and those who lost so much.”
The Monarch also paid tribute to first responders: “We are indebted to the emergency services who risked their own lives this year saving others,” and reminded us that many will be working today to help us all.
Sitting in a room surrounded by photos of her family, The Queen told us that making these reflections made her grateful. “For the blessings of home and family, and in particular for 70 years of marriage.”
Remarking that the term platinum for 70 years of marriage hadn’t been invented when she was born as “you weren’t expected to be around that long.”
In the year in which The Queen and Prince Philip celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, and the Prince stepped down from public duties, the Sovereign hailed her husband for his “support and unique sense of humour” this year and throughout her 65-year reign. Moving to pay tribute to her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, she related that “Even Prince Philip has decided to slow down a little, as he economically put it, ‘he has done his bit’.”
“I know his support and unique sense of humour will remain as strong as ever as we enjoy spending time this Christmas with our family.”
The setting for the speech re-enforced The Queen’s messages about family with photographs of herself and Prince Philip on display – a 1947 black and white wedding picture, the official photograph to commemorate the couple’s platinum wedding anniversary, as well as recent birthday portraits of Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
In a wide shot that begins the Christmas speech, we also see one of Prince Harry and Meghan’s engagement photos, and another of Prince Charles and Camilla.
Acknowledging the coming birth of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s third child, and Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle in May, she went on to say that: ” we look forward to welcoming new members into (the family) next year.”
Moving to the other family in the Monarch’s life – the Commonwealth, The Queen said that she looked forward to welcoming representatives of the 52 nation members into her home in 2018 as they gather for a summit in London.
At the conclusion of the speech, Elizabeth II shared her own thoughts on Christmas’s true Christian meaning, remembering the birth of Jesus Christ “whose only sanctuary was a stable”.
“It is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example that has inspired me through good times and bad… Whatever your own experiences this year, wherever and however you are watching I wish you a peaceful and very happy Christmas.”
The Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir closed the broadcast with a rendition of the Christmas carol, ‘It Came Upon The Midnight Clear’
The Queen wore a dress in ivory white Bouclé designed by Angela Kelly, embellished with Swarovski crystals, and her Jardine Star brooch; the dress was first worn with a matching coat and hat, for the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant in 2012.
The tradition of the monarch addressing the nation at Christmas began in 1932 under King George V as a radio broadcast, and Queen Elizabeth II has delivered the speech ever year since 1952 – apart from in 1969, when she wrote her Christmas address rather than broadcast it.
The first fully televised Queen’s Christmas Broadcast took place in 1957.
The Queen writes her own Christmas speeches, and according to the BBC is one of the few occasions where she does not seek government advice and is free to voice her own thoughts.
Earlier in the day Her Majesty led other members of the Royal Family as they attended the Christmas morning service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate. It was the first year that Prince Harry’s fiancee, Meghan Markle joined the Royals for their traditional Christmas celebrations.