THE Queen acknowledges the world has faced moments of darkness this year but describes Christmas as a time to be thankful – especially for family – in her annual yuletide broadcast today.
In a Christmas message to the nation and Commonwealth, this year recorded in the 18th Century Room at Buckingham Palace, the 89-year-old monarch will describe the festive period as “a time to remember all that we have to be thankful for”.
Reflecting on a year dominated by headlines about terror attacks, war and those fleeing conflict, the Queen will send out a message of hope, fuelled by her Christian faith.
She will say: ”It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’.”
At the end of a year which marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, she will offer renewed thanks for the service and sacrifice of those who took part in the conflict.
She will also give praise to “the people who bring love and happiness into our own lives,” starting with family.
On her desk in the 18th Century Room – part of the Belgian Suite where visiting heads of State usually stay at the palace – sit photographs of some of her loved ones. There is a picture of her with the Duke of Edinburgh in country clothes, a photograph of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall taken on their wedding day in 2005, and a snap of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George and Princess Charlotte taken after the Princess’s christening earlier this year.
For the broadcast, the Queen is wearing a fitted lightweight tweed day dress in white and silver with lurex thread running through.
The dress was designed by Angela Kelly, her trusted personal assistant and clothes designer, and was worn originally with a coat and a hat for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Wales in 2012.
The Queen is wearing an art deco diamond and aquamarine brooch, previously owned by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and three strands of pearls.
In the UK, the broadcast, produced this year by ITN, will be transmitted, both on television and radio, at 3pm on Christmas Day.
In Commonwealth countries, local times will dictate the precise broadcasting arrangements.
The Queen’s Christmas broadcast will also be available on the Royal Channel on YouTube (www.youtube.com/TheRoyalChannel) from 3pm GMT on Christmas Day.
It was produced and directed by Jane Thompson, who previously directed ITV’s Royal Wedding programme and four ITV General Election results programmes.
The executive producer was Emma Hoskyns, head of special events for ITV News at ITN. Ms Hoskyns was responsible for ITV’s Royal Wedding programme, ITV’s Jubilee special programme and this year’s ITV Election results programme.
This year, the national anthem in the broadcast is directed by Nigel Perrin, formerly countertenor of the King’s Singers. He invited a selection of members from his three choirs, the Bath Bach Choir, the Exeter Festival Chorus and the Bath Camerata, which he founded in 1986, to sing the anthem.
The singers are: Will Acton, Alan Barker, Erik Burnett-Godfree, Nigel Crane, Amanda Dodds, Elizabeth Gray, Tam Jackson, Robert Millington, Kate Perrin, Henrietta Samler, Graham Shaw, Kate Somerby, Lucina Swain, Helen Vines and Peter Woodward.
The carol, Away in a Manger, is directed and arranged by Huw Williams and sung by the Children of Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace.