The Queen’s Christmas broadcast is a traditional feature of the festive season where the head of state can express her thoughts about the past year. Here is the first speech and today’s speech.
1957 Christmas Broadcast
The Queen wrote her first speech with the assistance of advisors.
- The monarch made her first Christmas broadcast live on the radio in 1952 – the year of her accession – and the annual message was first shown on TV in 1957.’
2018 Christmas Message
The 2018 Queen’s Christmas Speech.
She has made a Christmas Day speech every year except in 1969 when she decided the Royals had been on TV enough after an unprecedented family documentary.
- The Queen’s grandfather, King George V, delivered the first royal Christmas broadcast live on the radio from Sandringham in 1932.
- The original idea was suggested by Sir John Reith, the founding father of the BBC, to inaugurate the Empire Service, now the BBC World Service.
George V was at first unsure about using the relatively untried medium of the wireless but eventually agreed.
Creating the Christmas Broadcast
- The fixed time of 3 pm each year was chosen in 1932 because it was considered the best for reaching most of the countries in the British Empire by shortwave.
King George V’s eldest son, who became King Edward VIII, never delivered a Christmas speech, as his reign lasted less than a year, ending in abdication.
- King George VI, the Queen’s father, and Edward’s brother made his first broadcast in December 1937 in which he thanked the nation for their support during the first year of his reign.
- There was no Christmas broadcast in 1936 or 1938, and it was the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 that firmly established the tradition.
- The speech is written by the Queen herself and is one of the rare occasions when she does not turn to the Government for advice and is able to voice her own views.
Each message has a strong religious framework and reflects current issues. She chooses a theme, drawing sometimes on her own personal experiences and sometimes from global events such as wars, terrorist attacks or natural disasters.
In 2003, the Queen recorded her annual Christmas message entirely on location, away from a royal residence, for the first time.
- With a military backdrop of armored fighting vehicles at Combermere Barracks in Windsor, she paid tribute to British servicemen and women who had fought in the Iraq war.
- The Queen sometimes watches her own speech alone on Christmas Day.
Does the Queen watch the broadcast?
The Duke of York revealed the monarch can prefer to leave the room to scrutinize her work as the rest of the royal family gather around the television together at Sandringham on December 25.
- The royals at attend church on Christmas Day, before they head to Sandringham House for lunch and to watch the Queen’s speech.
- Andrew recalled: “I do remember that sometimes the Queen watches it and sometimes sits in another room thinking ‘Has it come across in the right way?’”
- He added: “As children, we were always encouraged after lunch to behave ourselves and wait for the Queen’s message because lunch would usually finish within one or 15 minutes of the quarter to three, and three o’clock was the time we all sit down and watch it.”
- The duke spoke of how other members of the royal family have taken part in the broadcast over the years.
- “I think all of us have taken part in it in one form or another over the years,” he said.
During the Falklands War when the Duke of York served as a helicopter pilot, Andrew and his fellow servicemen were the focus of the Queen’s 1982 message.
- “The fact that the Queen, their Commander in Chief, had a concern and was thinking about what they’re doing, and as it were, was with them for those few minutes, gives you a tremendous buzz and a feel that ‘Oh we’ve been mentioned, we’ve been thought about’,” he told ITV.