The King’s speech: everything we know about Charles’s first Christmas message

The King will make a festive broadcast this year, the first by a male monarch in 70 years

King Charles III
The King is reportedly urging the royal family not to watch his Christmas broadcast
(Image credit: WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Families gathering around the television for the Christmas broadcast will notice some differences this year following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, as King Charles III is set to make his first festive speech to the nation.

As the country’s new monarch, King Charles is expected to continue what has become an integral part of Christmas Day for many families in the UK and across the world.

It will be the first time in “almost 70 years” a King has delivered the traditional royal Christmas broadcast, said Radio Times, and will be the “first time in history” that a male monarch has delivered a televised Christmas message.

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King George VI, the last male monarch to sit on the British throne, broadcast his speeches via radio, while Queen Elizabeth II “made her festive television debut” in 1957, a tradition she maintained until her death this year.

What will the King say in this year’s speech?

It is unlikely we’ll know the content of the King’s speech until it’s delivered, but it is thought Charles will “pay tribute to his late mother” as well as “reflect on celebrations around her Platinum Jubilee”, which took place earlier this year, said Radio Times.

Other topics that could be touched upon include “the UK’s change in prime ministers across the year”, as the country had three separate Conservative premierships from Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and now Rishi Sunak, as well as “the progress made in reducing COVID deaths and the ongoing war against Russia and Ukraine”, said the magazine.

There has also been speculation over which members of the royal family will be warmly mentioned in the King’s first festive message and which might be snubbed.

As the publication of Prince Harry’s tell-all memoir Spare looms over the family, King Charles must decide whether to “continue his record of supportive comments about his son” – having mentioned the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in his first speech as King, or “default back to focusing only on working members of the royal family”, said Newsweek.

When did the tradition of the Christmas broadcast begin?

The first royal Christmas message was delivered in 1932 by the Queen’s grandfather, George V, but it took several years for the broadcast to “become the regular tradition it is today”, said the royal family’s official website. It wasn’t until the outbreak of war in 1939 that the broadcast became more of a Christmas tradition, having played an important role in “boosting morale and reinforcing belief in the common cause” in the war years.

This year’s Christmas broadcast will be the first delivered by a King in decades – and King Charles will also make history as the first male monarch to give a televised Christmas speech to the nation.

The last Christmas broadcast to be given by a King was by the Queen’s father, King George VI, in 1951. But it was “marked by the illness that had plagued the King through his last years”. He was “only able to manage it in intervals” and this last Christmas broadcast was the only one he pre-recorded “rather than delivering live”. The Queen, however, would always pre-record her message ahead of 25 December.

King Charles will also reportedly “follow in his mother’s footsteps” and pre-record his message ahead of the big day, said the Daily Mail.

But, unusually, it seems the royal family will also join the ranks of those who choose to eschew the Christmas Day tradition. The paper reported that Charles wants to “break the family’s tradition” of gathering around the television to watch the monarch give the Christmas broadcast when it airs in the afternoon. Instead he is reportedly encouraging his loved ones to “focus on reminiscing about their happy times with the Queen”.

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