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History of the Royal Christmas Broadcast

Things are starting to feel a bit more ‘Christmassy’ so I thought I’d share the history of the Royal Christmas message.

Her Majesty The Queen broadcasts at 3:00 pm on Christmas Day to the UK and Commonwealth. It is part of the structure and cooking timings, of many people’s celebrations. It is also special because it is very rare to see the Queen talking directly to the nation. Occasions I can remember are the tragic death of Princess Diana, the 2012 Olympics and a thank you to everyone who put on events to celebrate her 90th Birthday. (poor woman was sung Happy Birthday everywhere she went for about 10 months!)

The Queen, who apparently does the recording in one take like a video pro, has delivered her Christmas message to the nation, and 52 states of the Commonwealth since 1952.

The Queen often reflects on the year within themes such as compassion, generosity or wider Christian values.

Any significant anniversaries such as the 75th Anniversary of major campaigns in the Second World War will also be referenced as will major national events such as was the case during the 2012 London Olympics.

The Queen also makes personal references to her own families lives such as royal births, major overseas tours and birthday milestones.

So, how did it all start?

Originally, it was called the King’s Christmas Message and was intended to support the BBC World Service.

Despite disliking the medium of radio, George V agreed to start Christmas broadcasts in 1932.

His successor, King Edward VIII never delivered a Christmas message as his reign lasted less than a year, ending in abdication in 1936. No message was broadcast this year.

However, they became important once more during the Second World War with broadcasts from then George VI designed to boost morale.

Rudyard Kipling wrote George V’s first message, but it is said the Queen writes her own, as it is an opportunity to speak personally and without advice from Ministers.

The message is recorded a few days before Christmas, often at Buckingham Palace and before the Queen travels to Sandringham where she spends every Christmas with her family.

Editor Elizabeth Hill-Scott
Britpolitics Editor – Elizabeth Hill-Scott