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English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
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The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
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Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The First Royal Christmas Broadcast

With a hoarse voice as if roughened by weather, King George V delivered the first Royal Christmas Broadcast - written by author and poet Rudyard Kipling - from a study at Sandringham House, Norfolk, on Christmas Day 1932.

The text, of timeless simplicity, bore the hallmark of the master: "I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all; to men and women so cut off by the snows, the desert, or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them."

In emphatic tones and the accent of an Edwardian country gentleman, it sufficed to carry his words to world-wide acclaim. With its very first delivery, the Christmas broadcast from Sandringham had become an institution.

Legend has it that the King used a gold microphone. It was in fact a standard one encased in Australian walnut. A thick cloth covered the table to deaden the sound of rustling paper, for the King's hands were known to tremble with nervousness. He spoke from a little room under the stairs: "I broadcast a short message of 251 words to the whole Empire from Francis' room."

Although moved by its reception, the King had no wish to repeat his triumph. It was an ordeal, he complained, which spoilt his Christmas. Some of his courtiers also thought (correctly, as it turns out) that an annual broadcast would lose its impact through familiarity. The politicians were of course encouraging, even if the King was unimpressed.

He agreed to continue only when shown a batch of appreciative letters throughout the Empire. The broadcasts of 1933, 1934 and 1935 never quite achieved the sublime appeal of 1932; perhaps the replacement of Kipling by Archbishop Lang as the principal draftsman exchanged magic for mere eloquence. Yet all who gathered year after year for the King's Christmas message awaited the voice of a friend.

Source: King George V, by biographer Kenneth Rose.

Photo © Press Association


Bolingbroke said...

He spoke from "a little room under the stairs".

You call the room in that photo, small? Pretty palacial, actually.

And as it should be.

Aeneas the Younger said...

We listen - er ... watch - the Queen's Message every Christmas Day.

Aeneas the Younger said...

It's not Christmastide in CANADA otherwise.