Queen's Christmas message: Hope in 'moments of darkness'

The Queen has used her Christmas Day address to speak of light triumphing over the dark in a year that has seen "moments of darkness".

It comes after a year which has seen a number of terror attacks, including mass shootings in Paris and the killing of 39 people at a Tunisian resort.

During the broadcast, the Queen acknowledged the birth of Princess Charlotte, her fifth great-grandchild.

She also made a light-hearted reference to her forthcoming 90th birthday.

Reflecting on the past year, the Queen described the festive period as "a time to remember all that we have to be thankful for".

Sitting at a desk in Buckingham Palace's 18th Century Room, she said: "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.'"

'Joys of long life'

This year's message, produced by ITN, began with images of Buckingham Palace taken by a drone rising into the sky.

A montage of royal engagements featuring senior members of the Royal Family - including the state opening of Parliament and family members gathering on Buckingham Palace's balcony after the Trooping the Colour ceremony - was then shown before the Queen began her address.

Members from Bath Bach Choir, Exeter Festival Chorus and the Bath Camerata accompanied the footage, first humming and then singing the national anthem.

Analysis

The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince of Wales, Prince George, Prince William, The Queen, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

By Nicholas Witchell, BBC royal correspondent

Once again this year the Christmas broadcast confirms the profound importance to the Queen of her Christian faith.

It was in the Christmas broadcast in 2000 that she stated: "For me the teachings of Christ, and my own personal accountability before God, provide a framework in which I try to lead my life."

It's a theme to which she has returned again and again. In 2002, for example, she revealed how: "I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad."

Last year she described how "the life of Jesus Christ" was an "inspiration and an anchor in my life".

This year - in reflecting on the "moments of darkness" endured by the world in 2015 - she turned to the gospel of John. "The light shines in the darkness," she said.

And in recalling the plight of people forced to become refugees, she cited what she called "Christ's unchanging message" that we should love one another.

It is the Christmas message of a monarch sustained by faith: a monarch, moreover, who approaches her 90th birthday next April but who is - as she said - determined to remain "busy".


Delivering the message with a Christmas tree and decorated fireplace behind her, the monarch said: "Gathering round the tree gives us a chance to think about the year ahead - I am looking forward to a busy 2016, though I have been warned I may have Happy Birthday sung to me more than once or twice."

She went on to mention the birth of Princess Charlotte in May, saying: "One of the joys of living a long life is watching one's children, then grandchildren, then great-grandchildren, help decorate the Christmas tree.

"And this year my family has a new member to join in the fun."

Princess Charlotte at 6 months old

Image copyrightHRH DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE

Image captionKensington Palace released new photographs of Princess Charlotte last month

The Queen noted that her great-grandparents Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had popularised the custom of families having their own Christmas tree, while a 19th Century image of the couple next to a candle-lit tree was shown.

The monarch, who had family photographs on the desk next to her, said: "The custom of topping a tree also goes back to Prince Albert's time.

"For his family's tree, he chose an angel, helping to remind us that the focus of the Christmas story is on one particular family.

"For Joseph and Mary, the circumstances of Jesus's birth - in a stable - were far from ideal, but worse was to come as the family was forced to flee the country.

"It's no surprise that such a human story still captures our imagination and continues to inspire all of us who are Christians, the world over.

"Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ's unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another."

This year marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, and the Queen offered thanks for the service and sacrifice of those who took part in the conflict.

The Queen wore a white and silver tweed day dress by Angela Kelly to record the address, with an art deco diamond and aquamarine brooch, previously owned by the Queen Mother, on her shoulder.

She writes her own address, which is one of the rare occasions when she voices her own views.

Source: BBC.com