Following a year of firsts for King Charles III, the recently appointed Head of State has delivered his first Christmas Day message as Monarch.
The King stood in the squire of St George’s Chapel for the history making broadcast in which he reflected on the difficulties of the past year while honouring his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
“I am standing here in this exquisite Chapel of St George at Windsor Castle, so close to where my beloved mother, the late Queen, is laid to rest with my dear father,” he began.
“I am reminded of the deeply touching letters, cards and messages which so many of you have sent my wife and myself and I cannot thank you enough for the love and sympathy you have shown our whole family.
“Christmas is a particularly poignant time for all of us who have lost loved ones. We feel their absence at every familiar turn of the season and remember them in each cherished tradition.
“In the much-loved carol O Little Town Of Bethlehem we sing of how ‘in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light’.
“My mother’s belief in the power of that light was an essential part of her faith in God, but also her faith in people and it is one which I share with my whole heart.
“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.”
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King Charles went on to recognise the “selfless dedication” of the armed forces and those dedicated to public service before addressing the ongoing cost of living crisis and the difficulty people are facing in these uncertain times.
“We see it in the selfless dedication of our armed forces and emergency services who work tirelessly to keep us all safe, and who performed so magnificently as we mourned the passing of our late Queen,” he said.
“We see it in our health and social care professionals, our teachers and indeed all those working in public service, whose skill and commitment are at the heart of our communities.
“And at this time of great anxiety and hardship, be it for those around the world facing conflict, famine or natural disaster, or for those at home finding ways to pay their bills and keep their families fed and warm, we see it in the humanity of people throughout our nations and the Commonwealth who so readily respond to the plight of others.
“I particularly want to pay tribute to all those wonderfully kind people who so generously give food or donations, or that most precious commodity of all, their time, to support those around them in greatest need, together with the many charitable organisations which do such extraordinary work in the most difficult circumstances.
“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.”
After acknowledging the difficulties of the past year, Charles finished on a more positive and hopeful note.
“While Christmas is, of course, a Christian celebration, the power of light overcoming darkness is celebrated across the boundaries of faith and belief,” Charles said.
“So, whatever faith you have, or whether you have none, it is in this life-giving light, and with the true humility that lies in our service to others, that I believe we can find hope for the future.
“Let us therefore celebrate it together, and cherish it always.
“With all my heart, I wish each of you a Christmas of peace, happiness and everlasting light.”
The King’s Christmas speech follows a longstanding tradition that dates back 90 years. The first Christmas message was delivered by George V in 1932 via radio.
Queen Elizabeth delivered her first Christmas speech in 1952, with her first televised broadcast presented in 1957.
The late Queen continued the tradition throughout the duration of her 70 year reign before she passed away on Thursday, September 8 at the age of 96.