In so many ways, she was always going to be a much loved, and very hard act to follow. But when you put King Charles’s message in the context of the strike deadlock we’ve seen before Christmas, some may suggest he’s erring on the side of being political.
Royal correspondent @SkyRhiannon
Monday 26 December 2022 01:20, UK
For seven decades many of us welcomed his mother into our sitting rooms.
At 3pm every Christmas Day, a chance for families and friends to pause and for the Queen to address us all. In so many ways, she was always going to be a much loved, and very hard act to follow.
The King’s message immediately looked different from the Queen’s recordings we’ve seen in recent years. Not sitting behind a desk with significant photos alongside him, but instead standing up inside St George’s Chapel, the perfect location to begin what was in part a loving tribute to his mother, just months after she was buried there at Windsor Castle.
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It was the Queen’s example of service he again encouraged us to take inspiration from, as with the deepest respect for his mother’s way, he is beginning to show how he wants to do things differently.
We’d got used to his mother’s subtlety in her annual messages. I remember one recently where she mentioned simply how it had been a bumpy year; she didn’t need to spell out the specific issues of political turmoil and problems she’d had with her own family.
Her son it seems wants to be more straight-talking, dedicating several minutes of his message to focus on what he calls a time of “great anxiety and hardship”. He doesn’t hold back in spelling out what for him is an indisputable fact, that many are struggling and it’s really community heroes who are keeping the country going.
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Is King Charles being political?
We clearly have a new king for whom the cost of living crisis, and what he can do in his new role, is playing on his mind; he wants to express a sense of empathy albeit from a position of immense privilege.
What’s tricky is when you put his message in the context of the strike deadlock we’ve seen before Christmas involving many of the public sector workers that he name-checks and praises, ambulance staff, nurses, etc, and why some may suggest he’s erring on the side of being political.
His focus on faith is also particularly striking. Both his own and recognising the diverse religious communities that make up the United Kingdom.
While the Queen was so private about many aspects of her life, her strong Christian beliefs were something she wore very publicly. It hasn’t always been the same with her son.
But just like his first address to the nation after the Queen died he obviously wants to reinforce in our minds how much guidance he also takes from his own Christian beliefs; particularly interesting from a man who once seemed to suggest that he would be a “Defender of faith” more generally rather than “Defender of the Faith” when he became monarch.
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Now as supreme governor of the Church of England he is firmly committing himself to that role. But not to the exclusion of others. I’m not sure the Queen always specifically name-checked other religions in the way the King does or tried to talk so directly to those who don’t believe.
The fact he addresses everyone “whatever faith you have or whether you have none” he couldn’t be clearer that he doesn’t want anyone to feel excluded, he wants to be a King for all.
A defining year for the monarchy
As we head into what will be another defining year for the monarchy that sense of reaching out and connecting will only gather pace in the lead-up to the Coronation, a moment the palace hope won’t just mark a change of reign, but showcase to the world a celebration of what Great Britain is today, a vibrant and diverse United Kingdom.
This Christmas broadcast begins that process. A message of inclusion, understanding, and empathy from a man who said he wouldn’t meddle as monarch, but still it would seem has plenty to say.
Only with time will it become clearer if in his new role it’s felt he’s saying too much and overstepping the mark.