The King's Christmas speech explained as Charles marks his first year as Monarch

ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship takes a deeper look at the meaning behind the words Charles used in his second Christmas speech as Monarch

This is the King’s second Christmas broadcast as Monarch but one which his inner circle considers the first that can truly be called his own.

While the King addressed the nation and the Commonwealth for Christmas 2022, it was a speech which was heavily influenced by the recent death of his mother, and reflected the transition from the reign of, Elizabeth II, to the new reign of Charles III.

So this year, the King stepped over the wires, and found his way through the building work which is currently going on in the east wing of Buckingham Palace and made his way to the ITN cameras set up in the Centre Room.

As its name suggests, the Centre Room sits in the middle of the famous facade which leads onto the balcony.

Which is where, last May, the King and Queen, took in the sight of the thousands of people who had crowded onto The Mall to be part of the UK’s first Coronation since 1953.

The weight of responsibility of his new role, symbolised by the weight of the crowns he wore that day, was reflected in his face.

Charles and Camilla had just completed the elaborate ceremony in Westminster Abbey which had been the setting of every Coronation since 1066.

So for this Christmas broadcast, there was no table behind the Monarch on which comments might be made about the choice of family photographs – or lack of them.

This year, the only identifiable items in the background were the Christmas tree (the first time a ‘living tree’ had been used in a royal Christmas broadcast instead of a cut one) and the outline of the Queen Victoria Memorial which sits in front of Buckingham Palace.

With the focus therefore on his words, the King embarked on a speech to reflect his first full year as King.

This is, of course, a largely Christian-focused messaged centered around the Christmas story but the King spoke to those “of all faiths and none” given his long-held belief that he represents people from all communities in the United Kingdom and around the Commonwealth.

The Coronation might have been a highlight in the 2023 royal calendar, but the tensions in the Holy Land were the definite low point of the global events of this last year.

And although a Monarch rarely uses a Christmas address to remark on a particular conflict, King Charles did have the Israel-Gaza hostilities uppermost in his mind when he spoke of praying “to protect each other” in the “increasingly tragic conflicts around the world”.

Given the King has spent many years, and even organised recent events at Buckingham Palace, working to heal divisions between faiths -he urged all sides in this conflict, but also in Ukraine right now, to follow the words of Jesus when Charles said: “do to others as you would have them do to you.”

But it was also no surprise the Coronation featured prominently in the King’s Christmas speech.

Most people in this country have never witnessed the moment of crowning a Monarch. The last one was 70 years ago.

The King is crowned with St Edward’s Crown in May by the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Reverend Justin Welby Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

The “meaning of coronation”, the King said was “a call to all of us to serve one another” and he highlighted a new service he has named after the Coronation to cut food waste.

At a time of what he called “real hardship for many”, the King hopes his Coronation Food Project will cut the amount of food waste going to landfill and divert it to those who really need it.

He said the project, which aims to strengthen the current food donation arrangements and create new ones with farms and food factories, will “build on existing ways” to help others.

For those of us who witnessed the King launch it, on his 75th birthday in a rain-soaked trading estate in Didcot, it was clear how much this meant to him personally.

Even though, as King, he can’t ‘campaign’ in the same way he did as Prince Charles, he still uses every speech, be that at a State Banquet or in a room full of business leaders, to mention his concern for the future of our planet.

He does it differently now, in a statesman-like manner rather than a campaigning prince, but he still uses his powers of convening, and his position as a respected figure on the world stage, to do what he can to protect the environment and nature.

After being invited to speak at the opening ceremony of the COP28 UN climate change summit in November, the King said in his Christmas broadcast that we must “care for the earth for the sake of our children’s children.”

King Charles opened the Cop28 World Climate Action summit in Dubai Credit: PA

And he spoke of how, in the Christmas story, “angels brought the message of hope first to shepherds” as they lived close to nature “amongst others of God’s creatures”.

Charles said he finds great inspiration from the way in which so many people now recognise “how we must protect the earth and our natural world as the one home that we all share.”

He might have been talking about this issue for more than 50 years, but most politicians haven’t.

The King’s great-grandfather, George V,  began the tradition of Christmas broadcasts in 1932.

Queen Elizabeth did 70 such messages, first on the radio and, from 1967, on television.

This is King Charles’ second Christmas broadcast, and it won’t be the last time he uses it to promote service to others and sustainability for the planet we share – two issues about which he cares deeply.

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