King uses first Christmas broadcast to address cost of living crisis suffering

King Charles III during the recording of his first Christmas broadcast in the Quire of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. Issue date: Sunday December 25, 2022. 
King Charles III during the recording of his first televised Christmas broadcast. Credit: PA

Watch the King's speech in full

Charles also paid tribute to his mother the late Queen's legacy, as the royal family comes together to mark their first Christmas since her death.

The monarch praised individuals, charities and faith groups supporting those in need, as he spoke about the “great anxiety and hardship” experienced by many trying to “pay their bills and keep their families fed and warm.”

The Christmas Day televised message, lasting eight minutes and written by the King, featured footage of a foodbank and other scenes of meals being distributed to the homeless.

King Charles used the speech to talk about times of great hardship for families across the UK, Chris Ship reports

The monarch also praised volunteers, paying tribute to the “wonderfully kind people” who donated food or their time as the world responds to the war in Ukraine.

Charles delivered his historic Christmas broadcast while standing in the quire of St George’s Chapel, mirroring his late mother's 1999 festive address.

It followed Queen Elizabeth II’s well-established template, including a personal reflection on the year, and touching on current issues from the perspective of a Christian framework.

But the King also recognised other faiths, highlighting how religious communities were helping those in financial difficulties and, like Christians, believed in the “power of light overcoming darkness”.

The royal family with the late Queen Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

The central theme was a celebration of “selfless dedication”, a value embodied by his mother and reflected in the actions of many, from the emergency services to public spirited individuals, which helped to build and strengthen communities.

The pre-recorded message began with Charles reflecting on how he was standing “so close to where my beloved mother, the late Queen, is laid to rest with my dear father” in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, and he thanked the public for the “love and sympathy” expressed in cards and messages of condolence.

He also described how the festive period was a “poignant time” for bereaved families, adding “We feel their absence at every familiar turn of the season and remember them in each cherished tradition”.

Charles said he shared the late Queen’s “faith in people” who can touch the lives of others with “goodness and compassion”, something he described as the “essence of our community and the very foundation of our society”.

These qualities were reflected in the “selfless dedication” of the Armed Forces, health and social care professionals, teachers and all those who work in public service.

The Queen with her late husband Prince Philip on her last overseas Royal Tour. Credit: PA

He added: “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."The King's speech did not address the wave of winter strikes erupting in disputes over pay and conditions, including industrial action by nurses and ambulance workers, currently sweeping the United Kingdom.But he used the broadcast to pay tribute to health and emergency services workers.

Footage was shown of the Armed Forces and emergency services at work, from soldiers carrying sandbags to a speeding ambulance, followed by doctors and nurses on a ward, and care workers in a home.

The Princess of Wales meets Charlotte Bunting, aged two, during a visit to St Thomas Church in Swansea Credit: Geoff Pugh/Daily Telegraph/PA

The King’s son and daughter-in-law were shown during a visit to St Thomas Church in Swansea in September, and he said: “The Prince and Princess of Wales recently visited Wales, shining a light on practical examples of this community spirit.”

William and Kate’s trip to Swansea, and earlier that day to Anglesey, was their first visit to Wales since receiving their titles and the prince helped pack a family food parcel for a foodbank based at the St Thomas, while the princess chatted to community nursery nurses who refer mothers to the church’s on-site baby bank.

Other members of the royal family were shown at official events from the Queen’s 2018 visit to the RAF Club in London to the Queen Consort handing children Paddington bears left in memory of the late monarch.

The Queen Consort during a teddy bears picnic in London, where she personally donated Paddington bears left as tributes to the Queen. Credit: PA

The Earl and Countess of Wessex and Princess Royal were also featured but there were no images of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who stepped down as working royals in 2020.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who live in the United States with their children Archie and Lilibet, did not join the royals in their Christmas celebrations at Sandringham this year. The royals have weathered another tumultuous year in family relations, including Harry and Meghan's recent Netflix documentary, in which the couple shared their perspective on the rift.

Harry, Meghan, William and Kate view the floral tributes at Windsor Castle. Credit: PA

A few days before the late Queen’s funeral on October 19, Charles told faith leaders gathered at Buckingham Palace, as monarch he had an important role to discharge “…the duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for faith itself and its practise through the religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals.

”He recognised those other faiths when he said in his Christmas message: “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.”

The King speaks to Prof Gurch Randhawa, a member of the Sikh congregation at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Luton. Credit: PA

Among the collection of video clips showing the King at official events, Charles was seen wearing a Sikh rumal, or handkerchief, on his head as a mark of respect during a visit to the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Luton earlier this month, and receiving condolences from the public during a walkabout outside Buckingham Palace in September.

His own faith was another central theme and he spoke about fulfilling a “life-long wish” to visit Bethlehem in 2020 and stand close to the sacred site in the Church of the Nativity that marks the spot where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born.

Charles, who in the past has described himself as a “committed Anglican Christian”, said in the address: “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.”

The Prince and Princess of Wales arriving with Princess Charlotte and Prince George for the 'Together at Christmas' Carol Service. Credit: PA

The Christmas broadcast ended with a message for the religious and those with no beliefs:

“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.”

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