Speaking in a pre-recorded address from St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the Queen was laid to rest alongside her husband Prince Philip, the new King expressed gratitude to members of the public who had shown love and sympathy in the wake of her death in September.
“I am reminded of the deeply touching letters, cards and messages which so many of you have sent my wife and myself and I cannot thank you enough for the love and sympathy you have shown our whole family,” he said.
“Christmas is a particularly poignant time for all of us who have lost loved ones. We feel their absence at every familiar turn of the season and remember them in each cherished tradition.”
King Charles honored the Queen’s legacy throughout his speech, remembering her belief in the power of “everlasting light” and her faith in people to touch the lives of others.
“In the much-loved carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ we sing of how ‘in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.’ My mother’s belief in the power of that light was an essential part of her faith in God, but also her faith in people – and it is one which I share with my whole heart. It is a belief in the extraordinary ability of each person to touch, with goodness and compassion, the lives of others, and to shine a light in the world around them,” he said.
“This is the essence of our community and the very foundation of our society.”
Sunday’s message marks Britain’s first annual Christmas Day broadcast not delivered by the Queen since her first message in 1957. In her final Christmas speech last year, she spoke of “passing the baton” to the next generation.
King Charles also made indirect reference to the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis, speaking of a time of “anxiety” and “hardship” as those around the world face conflict, and those at home struggle to pay their bills and “keep their families fed and warm.”
The King’s speech continues a royal family tradition dating back 90 years and comes days after the first images of British banknotes of the new monarch were unveiled by the Bank of England.
King Charles’ portrait will appear on notes of £5, £10, £20 and £50. Meanwhile, the rest of the design will remain the same as the current notes that feature the late Queen Elizabeth on the front.
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Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed to this report.