The Queen’s Christmas Message: A festive royal tradition

Since 1952, each December, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has delivered her Christmas message for the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Over the years, the Christmas message has acted as a chronicle of global, national and personal events which have affected The Queen and the nation that year. Topics on the agenda in 2014, for example, included the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the Tower of London poppy installation, the Commonwealth Games, the Scotland referendum and The Queen’s historic trip to Belfast.

As an eventful year for Her Majesty draws to a close, we look forward to the Christmas Day message and believe it’s fair to say there’s plenty to talk about in The Queen’s 63rd Christmas message – perhaps the most notable royal event and achievement of 2015 saw Her Majesty become Britain’s longest reigning monarch.

queens christmas message

A message from a monarch

In the early twentieth century people could view videos and films of their monarchs. But, while the monarchy was happy to be filmed, recording their voices wasn’t permitted. It’s something that today we take for granted, but prior to 1923, the voice of the monarch was seldom heard. Then, for the first time ever, King George V recorded a short message which was to be broadcast to the children of Britain. For many, this was the first time they’d heard the voice of their monarch.

The first Royal Christmas Message would follow nine years later, in 1932. Broadcast on the radio to homes across the UK, this, the first Royal Christmas Message, would begin the tradition which is continued today by Britain’s longest reigning monarch.

The history of The Royal Christmas Message

king george v christmas message

“I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all”
“To all, to each, I wish a Happy Christmas”

These words were spoken on 25 December 1932 by King George V, in what was the first royal Christmas message. It marked the beginning of a tradition which, to many, has become an integral part of the Christmas festivities. A Christmas Day message has been delivered by the monarch to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth almost every year since.

The Queen’s Christmas Message

Since her accession in 1952, The Queen has broadcast a Christmas message every year, except for one: 1969 – when a special documentary about the royal family was broadcast in its place.

The Queen’s first Christmas message came in 1952 in which she paid tribute to her late father and made reference to her upcoming coronation and the service she would give to her country.

In 1953, The Queen broadcast her Christmas message from Auckland, New Zealand whilst on a six-month tour of the Commonwealth – in what was The Queen’s first and only Christmas Message broadcast outside Britain. This occasion was captured on a coin issued by New Zealand in 2012, which featured in the silver coin collection The Royal Mint issued in celebration of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

christmas message coin
Christmas Message 2012 $1 coin – issued by the New Zealand Mint

The first televised Christmas message came in 1957, in which The Queen opened with references to the tradition and advances in technology since the first Christmas message, saying;

“Happy Christmas. 25 years ago, my grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark, because television has made it possible for many of you too see me in your homes on Christmas Day.”

From 1960, broadcasts were recorded in advance so that the tapes could be sent around the world to 17 Commonwealth countries, to be broadcast at a convenient local time.

This year’s Christmas Day speech will be The Queen’s 63rd Christmas message. It will follow a year that has seen Her Majesty become Britain’s longest reigning monarch, the birth and christening of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, and comes ahead of The Queen celebrating her 90th Birthday in 2016 – an occasion which will be marked with a UK coin, the design of which was revealed recently as part of our annual sets for 2016.

queens 90th birthday coin
Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday coin

The Queen’s 2015 Christmas message will air on BBC1 and ITV at 3pm on Christmas Day