Did You Know? The Queen Brought England’s Best-Loved Christmas Tradition to TV
And you can watch it this year.
Southerners love Christmas traditions, and our friends across the Atlantic do too. One much loved holiday tradition is The Queen’s Christmas Message (also known as Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech and The Queen’s Speech), which, in its current form, is a televised broadcast accessible via the Internet, radio, and TV on Christmas Day. In it, Queen Elizabeth II reflects on the year, sharing milestones both personal and public.
Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather, King George V, started this Christmas tradition in 1932. Then it was called The King’s Christmas Message, and it was broadcast over the radio courtesy of the BBC. King George VI continued the tradition, and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, took over the address in 1952.
The first few years of Queen Elizabeth’s broadcasts were shared over the radio, as with her father’s and grandfather’s messages, but in 1957, the Queen took the broadcast to television. This change invited everyone watching the message into the Queen’s home on Christmas Day, because the first televised broadcast was shared live from Sandringham House, the Queen’s estate in the Norfolk countryside. Another change came exactly ten years later when the address was first broadcast in color. In 1975, the address was filmed outdoors in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. These days, the address isn’t broadcast live; instead, it’s pre-recorded shortly before Christmas Day.
Last year, the Queen’s speech reflected on her 90th birthday and the success of British and Commonwealth athletes in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Queen spoke of inspiration and reminded viewers, “To be inspirational you don’t have to save lives or win medals. I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special.” The contents and settings of the messages have changed over the years, but the spirit and goal of the address—to offer sincere reflection and celebrate the season with heartfelt warmth—has remained constant.
Luckily for us, the Queen’s holiday address isn’t just for the monarch’s subjects. Now anyone in the world can watch the Christmas message by tuning in to The Royal Family’s Facebook page on Christmas Day. You can see a video of the very first televised broadcast here and a video of last year’s broadcast here. You can also find past addresses archived on YouTube. Below, we have gathered a few images from the Queen's holiday speeches over the decades.
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 1957
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 1975
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 1984
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 2003
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 2004
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 2005
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 2006
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 2007
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 2008
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 2010
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 2012
The Queen’s Christmas Message - 2013
WATCH: Here’s What Queen Elizabeth Eats In A Day
Will you tune in to The Queen’s Christmas Message this year? What holiday traditions do you and your family celebrate during the season?