Queen Praises U.K. Terrorism Survivors in Christmas Message
Posted December 25, 2017 11:08 a.m. EST
LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II marked her 60th anniversary as a self-described television host on Monday with an annual Christmas message that offered solace after Britain suffered five terrorist attacks in one year, reflected on the comforts of home and paid tribute to her husband after seven decades of marriage.
The queen said in her annual broadcast to Britain and the Commonwealth that she was thinking about London and Manchester, the two English cities attacked by terrorists this year, “whose powerful identities shone through over the past 12 months, in the face of appalling attacks.”
It had been a privilege, she said, to visit young survivors of the bombing at a pop concert in Manchester in May that killed 22 people. “The patients I met were an example to us all, showing extraordinary bravery and resilience,” she said in the 10-minute speech.
She spoke, too, of the damage done by hurricanes in the Caribbean, and the “sheer awfulness” of the Grenfell Tower fire in London in June that killed 71.
The queen began by introducing an excerpt from her first televised Christmas message, from 1957. “The presenter has evolved somewhat,” she said afterward, “as has the technology she described.”
There was only the gentlest of references to perhaps the year’s most eagerly anticipated royal event, the engagement of her grandson Prince Harry to U.S. actress Meghan Markle.
Praising her husband of 70 years, Prince Philip, who said in May that he would be stepping back from most public engagements, the queen said: “I know his support and unique sense of humor will remain as strong as ever as we enjoy spending time this Christmas with our family, and look forward to welcoming new members into it next year.”
Markle, who was shown briefly in the program’s closing images, attended a Christmas carol service with the royal family on Monday at a church near the queen’s Sandringham estate, in Norfolk, England.
Christmas broadcasts are a British tradition dating from 1932, when King George V, the current queen’s grandfather, delivered a three-minute Christmas Day message by radio. The queen gave her first radio Christmas message in 1952.
Favored topics in her annual talks include faith, family, peace, good will, and the good deeds of the many charities and other organizations of which she and other members of her family are patrons. But events, including grim ones, have regularly been incorporated.
In 2001, that meant acknowledging the “terrorist outrages” in the United States, as well as a large-scale outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain.
In 2005, she reflected on the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami, earthquakes in India and Pakistan, the effect of hurricanes on New Orleans and the Caribbean, as well as the “acts of brutal terrorism” in London, a series of coordinated attacks on the city’s transit network, that July.
The annual messages are prerecorded and zealously guarded. In 1992, Britain’s largest-circulation tabloid daily, The Sun, published a near-complete transcript on Dec. 23, prompting a rebuke from the royal family, a leak investigation at the BBC, and the recording of an amended message.
Production of the broadcast now shifts between the BBC and two other British broadcasters, Sky News and ITN. Production this year was handled by Sky News.