Christmas Broadcast 1982


Throughout history, seamen all over the world have shared a common experience and there is a special sense of brotherhood between merchant and naval seamen, fishermen, lifeboatmen and, more recently, yachtsmen.

The Queen's Christmas Broadcast in 1982 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Christmas Message, and was filmed in the Library of Windsor Castle for the first time. The theme was 'the sea', in a year in which British troops went to war to defend the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.

It is fifty years since the BBC External Service was started and my grandfather King George V made the first Christmas Broadcast from Sandringham.

Today I am speaking to you from the Library at Windsor Castle, in a room which was once occupied by Queen Elizabeth I. This is my home, where for many years now my family and I have celebrated Christmas.

Within a few feet of where I am standing is the cliff, with its wonderful commanding view over the Thames, which led William the Conqueror to build a castle on this ideal defensive position - a castle which has to this day been the home of Kings and Queens.

In October I was in Brisbane for the Commonwealth Games and then went by sea in BRITANNIA to visit a number of those beautiful Commonwealth island countries in the Pacific.

At first sight, there does not appear to be much connection between a Norman castle, this Elizabethan gallery, the Commonwealth Games and the Pacific Islands. But in fact they are all linked by the sea.

William became the Conqueror after invading England by sea. It was the voyages of discovery by the great seamen of Queen Elizabeth's day which laid the foundations of modern trade; and to this day 90 per cent of it still goes by sea. Discovery and trade in their turn laid the foundations of the present-day Commonwealth. It was the development of ocean-going passenger vessels that allowed the peoples of the world to move about and to get to know each other.

Such names as Drake, Anson, Frobisher, Cook, Vancouver and Phillip are familiar to people in widely different parts of the Commonwealth - while in Britain we owe our independence to the seamen who fought the Armada nearly 400 years ago and to Nelson and his band of brothers who destroyed Napoleon's dreams of invasion.

Nor could the great battles for peace and freedom in the first half of the twentieth century have been won without control of the seas.

Earlier this year in the South Atlantic the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy enabled our sailors, soldiers and airmen to go to the rescue of the Falkland Islanders 8,000 miles across the ocean; and to reveal the professional skills and courage that could be called on in defence of basic freedoms.

Throughout history, seamen all over the world have shared a common experience and there is a special sense of brotherhood between merchant and naval seamen, fishermen, lifeboatmen and, more recently, yachtsmen.

The navigators from the Pacific Islands, the fishermen of the Indian Ocean and China seas, and the men who man the oil rig supply ships in the North Atlantic have all learnt to come to terms with the varying moods of the seas and oceans.

In much the same way, the members of the Commonwealth, which evolved from Britain's seafaring history, have acquired an affinity through sharing a common philosophy of individual freedom, democratic government and the rule of law.

It may not sound very substantial but when measured against the number and variety of inter-Commonwealth organisations and the multitude of commercial, medical, legal and sporting connections, it becomes clear that this common philosophy has had a very powerful influence for unity.

Nothing could have demonstrated this unity more vividly than the immensely reassuring support given to Britain by the Commonwealth during the Falkland Islands crisis.

But the Commonwealth reveals its strength in many different ways. Any of you who attended or watched the events at the Commonwealth Games at Brisbane cannot have failed to notice the unique atmosphere of friendly rivalry and the generous applause for all the competitors.

In a world more concerned with argument, disagreement and violence, the Games stand out as a demonstration of the better side of human nature and of the great value of the Commonwealth as an association of free and independent nations.

The Games also illustrated the consequences of the movement of peoples within the Commonwealth. Colour is no longer an indication of national origin. Until this century most racial and religious groups remained concentrated in their homelands but today almost every country of the Commonwealth has become multi-racial and multi-religious.

This change has not been without its difficulties, but I believe that for those with a sense of tolerance the arrival and proximity of different races and religions have provided a much better chance for each to appreciate the value of the others.

At this time of the year, Christians celebrate the birth of their Saviour, but no longer in an exclusive way. We hope that our greetings at Christmas to all people of religious conviction and goodwill will be received with the same understanding that we try to show in receiving the greetings of other religious groups at their special seasons.

The poet John Donne said: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." That is the message of the Commonwealth and it is also the Christian message.

Christ attached supreme importance to the individual and he amazed the world in which he lived by making it clear that the unfortunate and the underprivileged had an equal place in the Kingdom of Heaven with the rich and powerful. But he also taught that man must do his best to live in harmony with man and to love his neighbours.

In the Commonwealth, we are all neighbours and it is with this thought in mind that I wish you all, wherever you may be, the blessings of a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Related content

The Queen's Commonwealth Day Message 2021

Stirring examples of courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty have been demonstrated in every Commonwealth nation and territory.

07 March 2021

The 75th Anniversary of VE Day

The 75th Anniversary of VE Day

Commonwealth Day 2020

09 March 2020

The Queen's 2020 Commonwealth Day Message

Such a blend of traditions serves to make us stronger, individually and collectively, by providing the ingredients needed for social, political and economic resilience

09 March 2020

A speech by The Countess of Wessex celebrating the work of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust

On behalf of the people The Trust has helped thank you to each and every one of you for all your incredible support, and to Your Majesty thank you for choosing to give the...

29 October 2019

International Youth Day 2019

12 August 2019

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018

Find out more about Royal events at this year's meeting, which is being held in London

Commonwealth Day 2018

12 March 2018

A Message from Her Majesty The Queen on the opening of the 2017 Commonwealth Science Conference

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the Commonwealth Science Conference in Singapore following the success of the Bangalore Conference in 2014. I am very grateful...

13 June 2017

A message from Her Majesty The Queen to the people of Barbados on the 50th Anniversary of Independence

Since you became an independent country in 1966, you have continued to flourish and grow into a strong and confident nation.

30 November 2016

A speech by Prince Harry on the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy dedication in St Lucia

On behalf of my grandmother, The Queen, I am grateful to the Government and the people of St. Lucia for this most generous contribution.

27 November 2016

Remembrance 2016

The Queen and the Royal Family attend engagements to mark Remembrance 2016

Royal Maundy Service 2016

24 March 2016

The Queen's Commonwealth Day message, 14 March 2016

Being inclusive and accepting diversity goes far deeper than accepting differences at face value and being tolerant.

14 March 2016

The Queen's Young Leaders

The Queen’s Young Leader Award celebrates exceptional people from across the Commonwealth

The Queen's Message to the Athletes

The baton relay represents a calling together of people from every part of the Commonwealth.

23 July 2014

Commonwealth Day message 2008

In the Commonwealth, governments, businesses, communities and individuals should each strive to match words and good intentions with deeds. Every contribution has its part to...

10 March 2008

Christmas Broadcast 2015

I have been warned I may have Happy Birthday sung to me more than once or twice.

25 December 2015

Commonwealth Day message 2007

Despite its size and scale, the Commonwealth to me is still at heart a collection of villages.

12 March 2007

Opening the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Nigeria, 5 December 2005

The Commonwealth is one of the great partnerships of the world where rich and poor, large and small, work together for the common good.

05 December 2015

A speech by The Queen at the CHOGM Dinner, Malta, 2015

Thank you, Mr Prime Minister of Canada, for making me feel so old!

27 November 2015

A speech by The Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen, I feel enormously proud of what the Commonwealth has achieved, and all of it within my lifetime

27 November 2015

A speech by The Queen at the Inauguration of the General Synod, 2015

St. Paul reminds us that all Christians, as ambassadors for Christ, are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation.

24 November 2015

Christmas Broadcast 2011

It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today, and so give us hope for tomorrow.

17 November 2015

Christmas Broadcast 2012

At Christmas I am always struck by how the spirit of togetherness lies also at the heart of the Christmas story.

17 November 2015

Christmas Broadcast 1997

Being united - that is, feeling a unity of purpose - is the glue that bonds together the members of a family, a country, a Commonwealth.

16 November 2015

Christmas Broadcast 2002

All great religions have such times of renewal, moments to take stock before moving on to face the challenges which lie ahead.

16 November 2015

Christmas Broadcast 1977

My hope this Christmas is that the Christian spirit of reconciliation may burn as strongly in our hearts during the coming year.

11 November 2015

Christmas Broadcast 1972

In the United Kingdom we have our own particular sorrows in Northern Ireland and I want to send a special message of sympathy to all those men, women and children who have...

10 November 2015

Christmas Broadcast 1974

My message today is one of encouragement and hope.

10 November 2015

Christmas Broadcast 1975

Then Christmas comes, and once again we are reminded that people matter, and it is our relationship with one another that is most important.

10 November 2015