Open main menu

Christmas Message, 1951

As I speak to you to-day I would like to wish you, wherever you may be, a happy Christmas. Though we live in hard and critical times Christmas is, and always will be, a time when we can and should count our blessings - the blessings of home, the blessings of happy family gatherings, and the blessing of the hopeful message of Christmas.

I myself have every cause for deep thankfulness, for not only - by the grace of God and through the faithful skill of my doctors, surgeons and nurses - have I come through my illness, but I have learned once again that it is in bad times that we value most highly the support and sympathy of our friends. From my peoples in these islands and in the British Commonwealth and Empire as well as from many other countries this support and sympathy has reached me and I thank you now from my heart. I trust that you yourselves realise how greatly your prayers and good wishes have helped and are helping me in my recovery.

It has been a great disappointment to the Queen and myself that we have been compelled to give us for the second time the tour which we had planned for next year. We were looking forward to meeting my peoples in their own homes and we realise that they will share our regret that this cannot be. I am very glad that our daughter, Princess Elizabeth with her husband will be able to visit these countries and I know that their welcome there will be as warm as that which awaited us.

You are most of you now sitting at home among your families, listening to me as I speak from mine. At Christmas we feel that the old simple things matter most. They do not change however much the world outside my seem to do so.

When we say that Christmas brings good cheer we do not only think of material things, we think more of the feelings of friendliness and comradeship we have one for the other; and I think that, among all the blessings which we may count to-day, the chief one is that we are a friendly people. We do not all think alike, of course. We are such a large family of nations that this would be difficult. We each have our own ideas, but we have come to learn that differences of opinion are not the same as quarrels.

I wonder if we realise just how precious this spirit of friendliness and kindness is. We are living in an age which is often hard and cruel, and if there is anything that we can offer to the world to-day perhaps it is the example of tolerance and understanding that runs like a golden thread through the great and diverse family of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

I send a special message to all those who are far from their homes on this Christmas Day. There is nothing new in this; we are a home loving people. But during the war we all looked forward so anxiously to the times when we should spend Christmas together at home, and now the troubles of the world are forcing so many of us to be away from our families and our own homes.

The Queen and I join with all those of our people who are thinking to-day of the asent ones from the family circle, some of whom may be serving in foreign lands. They may be the young men doing their National Service. They may be the officers and men of my fighting services and of the merchant services. I know that on Christmas Day they will be thinking of their families at home, and you will be thinking of them.

But especially we are all thinking of our friends and our sons and brothers who are now facing hardships and dangers in Malaya and Korea. A "band of brothers" drawn from all parts of my Dominions.

The Queen and I wish you all near and far a happy Christmas and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.