Christmas Message, 1948

Christmas Message, 1948  (1948) 
by George VI of the United Kingdom

Delivered on 25 December 1948.

Once again on Christmas Day I am happy to speak from my home to you in your homes or wherever you may be in all parts of the world. To each one of you the Queen and I send good wishes which come from our hearts. Since last I spoke to you at Christmas the past year has been a memorable one for me. In the course of it I have had three vivid personal experiences: all of them, in their different ways have made a deep impression on me.

In April I celebrated my silver wedding; then in November I welcomed my first grandchild; and, finally, I have been obliged to submit, for reasons of health, to a spell of temporary inactivity. All these are events which may have happened to many of you: as regards the first two of them, I hope they may happen to many more, for they are things that should bring happiness into any man’s life, as I know they have into mine.

As for the third, even this, like every other cloud, can have a silver lining, and it has had one striking result which it shares with the other two. For the impression made equally by all three experiences is the grateful recollection of the volume of good will and affection that they brought from all over the world to me and mine.

When last spring the Queen and I reached the 25th anniversary of our wedding day it was naturally an occasion of great happiness to us both: but the astonishing thing was that thousands and thousands of other people found happiness in it too.

So, too, when our grandson arrived the other day we soon felt that our own loving welcome to him was being reflected in countless homes that we have never seen, and that, before he was a week old, he had become the friend of half the world.

Finally, by an unkind stroke of fate, it fell to me a month ago to make a decision that caused me much distress – to postpone, on the advice of my doctors, the journey for which my peoples in Australia and New Zealand had been making such kindly preparations.

But here, against my own, disappointment, and my regret at the disappointment that I knew I was causing others, I can see the wave of sympathy and concern which flowed back to me not only from the Australians and New Zealanders themselves but from friends known and unknown in this old country and in every one of the great brotherhood of nations to which we all belong – and, indeed, from many hundreds of people in foreign lands who wish us well. The Queen and I have been deeply touched and much comforted by these expressions of love and loyalty from our people.

I am happy to say that my experiences in this year have left me with a feeling of great thankfulness for these proofs that an immense wealth of human kindness still survives in this modern world which sometimes seems almost starved of the peace and goodwill for which we specially look at Christmastide.

More than that, they have left me with a fuller understanding of the work which I have been called upon to do. They have shown me that kingship is no isolated, impersonal function, no abstract symbol of constitutional theory; they have shown me that it is, rather, one pole of a very real human relationship, depending on ties that are invisible, and unaffected by changes in internal form.

These ties may be difficult to explain, but are none the less powerful for good. Our Commonwealth – the British Commonwealth – has been subject to the laws of evolution; we would not have it otherwise. But it is stronger, not weaker, as it fulfils its ancient mission of widening the bounds of freedom wherever our people live’ and for myself I am proud to fulfil my own appointed share in that mission.

And now it only remains for me to echo those words which so may of you will already have said to each other today – words, which never lose their significance for old or young, and which, in good times or in bad, still bring a message of cheer to all of us; may your Christmas be happy, and may the coming year bring you a full measure of peace and prosperity, and may God bless you all.