King Charles III pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in Christmas speech

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Britain’s King Charles III delivered a message of empathy and unity and paid homage to the past in his first Christmas speech as monarch – resuming a tradition associated with defining moments in the reign of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

As Britain grapples with a rising cost of living and widespread strikes by nurses and other public sector workers, Charles’s remarks focused on those working “to light up the world around them”.

The Christmas message, watched by millions across Britain and Commonwealth nations, has been a staple of Christmas Day for nearly a century and offers insight into the royal family’s view of the state of the world. For Charles, it marks the end of a tumultuous year, in which his mother celebrated her platinum jubilee and died aged 96, and in which he ascended to the throne.

“Christmas is a particularly moving time for all of us who have lost loved ones,” said Charles. “We feel their absence at every family turn of the season and remember them in every cherished tradition.”

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Britain’s King Charles III and members of the royal family attended a Christmas service on Dec. 25 at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham Estate. (Video: Reuters)

Everything about the pre-recorded five-minute speech is right, and royal watchers keep a close eye on what is said – or not said – by the monarch.

The setting for Charles’s first attempt at the Christmas message was designed to show continuity from the Queen to the heir, staged in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where his mother was buried just a few months ago, alongside his father, the Prince Philip.

In the seven decades that Queen Elizabeth II has broadcast, they have often taken on a religious tone.

Charles accepted the responsibilities conferred by his religious titles – the monarch is head of the Church of England – without reservation, and attended a Christmas Day church service at Sandringham on Sunday. But there are hints that Charles intends to bring a somewhat different view of religion and spirituality to the role. In his message he said: “While Christmas is obviously a Christian celebration, the power of light overcoming darkness is celebrated beyond the bounds of faith and belief.”

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The first royal Christmas message was broadcast via radio in 1932 by King George V. Elizabeth carried the tradition to television – and broadcast a message every year of her reign, except for 1969, when she apparently decided the public had had enough of the Christmas message. royalty following the BBC broadcast of a two-hour documentary that she found both indulgent and intrusive.

The Christmas broadcasts have long served as a kind of annual summary of the royal family’s achievements, including births, heirs, birthdays, jubilees and deaths. Charles’ 2022 message – with his tribute to his mother – was in keeping with tradition.

But while Charles mentioned the public engagements of Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales, he made no reference to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

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The renegade duo – who resigned as “senior working royals” in 2020 and moved to California – have caused a public uproar in recent weeks with a Netflix documentary series that claimed palace agents provided negative stories about Meghan to the media. . Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have said they would not comment, and the King’s Christmas message on Sunday suggests they have no intention of changing course.

In her Christmas message last year, the Queen brushed aside controversies that hit the family at the time, including allegations that Prince Andrew had engaged in sexual abuse, which he denies.

Known for their brevity, Christmas messages also tend to touch on big social issues and have dealt with subjects such as the Great Depression, the rise of Nazism, the threat of nuclear annihilation in the 1950s and the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is one of the few public remarks that British monarchs often write without government advice.

In his speech on Sunday, Charles referred to conflicts, famine and natural disasters that have occurred this year, but made no direct reference to climate action – an issue that occupied him before he took the throne. As sovereign, he faces more expectations than before to refrain from sharing his personal opinions.

But the backdrop of Windsor Castle offered a message – to be decoded – of sustainability and Charles’s love of nature, gardening, plants and the circle of life.

In a note to reporters, the palace said the Christmas tree was “decorated with decorations made from sustainable materials, including paper and glass, as well as natural products such as pine cones”.

The floral arrangements used “English foliage – holly, fruit ivy and red skimmia”, and the tree was to be recycled to be seen by visitors on holiday in Windsor.