To the royal household, it is known as the QXB – the Queen’s Christmas broadcast. To millions of people, it is still an essential feature of Christmas Day. To the Queen, her annual broadcast is the time when she speaks to the nation without the government scripting it. But in recent years, it has also become something else: a declaration of her Christian faith. As Britain has become more secular, the Queen’s messages have followed the opposite trajectory.
A survey of the broadcasts made during her 65-year reign reveals that for most of the time the Queen has spoken only in passing of the religious significance of Christmas. There have been references to presents linking contemporary Christmas to the three wise men, for instance, alongside trips to Commonwealth countries, family events such as weddings and funerals, and there were observations about contemporary society. In 1966, for example, she spoke of the progress of women, and in 1972, she commented on Britain joining the European Community in language that would make any Remainer proud.
But for the past 17 years, her messages have taken on a different tone, with the Queen explaining her own personal faith – “the anchor in my life”, as she described it in 2014.
Last year she said: “Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in Him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.”
The turning point in the content of the broadcasts was the millennium. Her broadcast in 2000 was devoted to an account of Christ’s life and teaching which, she said, “provide a framework in which I try to lead my life”.
This personal commentary has continued ever since. According to Ian Bradley, professor of cultural and spiritual history at the University of St Andrews and the author of God Save the Queen – The Spiritual Heart of the Monarchy, “this truly makes her Defender of the Faith” – a reference to the title that all monarchs have used since it was first bestowed on Henry VIII in 1521 by Pope Leo X before he broke with Rome. Indeed, Elizabeth II’s faith impresses the papacy today, so much that one senior Vatican official described her to me as “the last Christian monarch”.
Explanations for these overtly Christian messages vary. Some royal watchers suggest that it was the Queen’s decision to use the 2,000th anniversary of Christ’s Birth as an opportunity to speak openly about Christianity. Others saw the hand of George Carey, then archbishop of Canterbury. Bradley sees the influence of Prince Philip at work. “After her very personal account in 2000, she was encouraged to continue because I’m told she received 25 times more letters than usual from the public in response to that Christmas message than others, and she had huge support from the Duke of Edinburgh.”
But Stephen Bates, a former royal correspondent and author of Royalty Inc: Britain’s Best-Known Brand, believes it was the death of the Queen Mother that changed her. “She loosened up after her mother’s death. The Queen Mother kept a beady eye on her and now she is more relaxed,” he said. “She expresses more of what she feels. I think this openness about her own commitment is part of it as well.”
Before 2000, the Queen’s most explicit commitments of faith were made during a 1947 radio broadcast, when she spoke of dedicating her life to service, and ended it by saying, “God help me to make good my vow” and at her coronation service.
Accession to the throne also meant she became supreme governor of the Church of England, the established church, and since then her public life has been inextricably shaped by religious occasions: being seen by TV audiences at church at Christmas and Easter, distributing Maundy money on Maundy Thursday and attending the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph.
But it is the Christmas broadcast where the personal, as well as public, is evident. No government official is involved. Instead, those who cast an eye in advance over what she has written will be her private secretary, now Edward Young, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh. Lord Chartres, the recently retired bishop of London, has long been the go-to theological adviser to the royal family and is believed to proffer advice as well. Regular themes include forgiveness, reconciliation, compassion and, most often, service.
THE CHANGING MESSAGE
‘Let us set out to build a truer knowledge of ourselves and our fellowmen, to work for tolerance and understanding among the nations and to use the tremendous forces of science and learning for the betterment of man’s lot upon this earth.’
‘In the modern world the opportunities for women to give something of value to the human family are greater than ever, because, through their own efforts, they are now beginning to play their full part in public life.’
‘Britain and these other European countries see in the Community a new opportunity for the future. They believe that the things they have in common are more important than the things which divide them, and that if they work together not only they, but the whole world will benefit. We are trying to create a wider family of nations and it is particularly at Christmas that this family should feel closest together.’
‘To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.’
‘For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people. The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach.’
‘For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose Birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an Anchor in my life. A Role Model of reconciliation and forgiveness, He stretched out His Hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.’
‘Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in Him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.’
SOURCE: Catherine Pepinster
A love letter to the viewer,
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, here’s how you can do so today and have a home in Heaven when you die:
- First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
- Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
- Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
- Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
- Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
- If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to GospelLightSociety.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door“. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you!