King Charles III has given his first Christmas Day message as monarch. Charles delivered the message from the historic St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England, where both of his parents and many other royals are buried. It was the first televised royal Christmas address not to be delivered by Queen Elizabeth, who initially did so 1957. Here is the full text of the speech:
“I’m 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. I’m 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 have 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. We see it in the selfless dedication of our armed forces and emergency services, who work tirelessly to keep us all safe, and who perform so magnificently as we mourn the passing of our late Queen. 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 to 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 organizations, 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 ourself. The Prince and Princess of Wales recently visited Wales, shining a light of practical examples of this community spirit.
Some years ago, I was able to fulfill a lifelong wish to visit Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity. There I went down into the chapel of the manger, and stood in silent reverence by the silver star that is inlaid on the floor and marks the place of our Lord Jesus Christ’s birth. It meant more to me than I can possibly express, to stand on that spot where as the Bible tells us, the light that has come into the world was born.
While Christmas is of course a Christian celebration, the power of light overcoming darkness is celebrated across the boundaries of faith and belief. 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.”