Christmas Broadcast 1997

Published 16 November 2015

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

The year 1997 was marked by the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash in Paris. But the year also saw some happier events. The Queen and Prince Philip celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary in a service at Westminster Abbey, while, five years after a huge fire, the restoration of Windsor Castle was completed. For that reason The Queen's Christmas Broadcast that year came from the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle.

At the Christian heart of this United Kingdom stands Westminster Abbey, and it was right that it provided the setting for two events this year - one of them almost unbearably sad, and one, for Prince Philip and me, tremendously happy.

Joy and sadness are part of all our lives. Indeed, the poet William Blake tells us that:

"Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine."

This interweaving of joy and woe has been very much brought home to me and my family during the last months. We all felt the shock and sorrow of Diana's death.

Thousands upon thousands of you expressed your grief most poignantly in the wonderful flowers and messages left in tribute to her. That was a great comfort to all those close to her, while people all around the world joined us here in Britain for that service in Westminster Abbey.

But Prince Philip and I also knew the joy of our Golden Wedding. We were glad to be able to share this joy at Buckingham Palace with many other couples, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.

Then, on our own anniversary day, came a very different service at Westminster Abbey, this time the "silken twine", a service of thanksgiving for our 50 happy years together. After that service we had a chance to meet and chat to so many different people.

I will never forget that day, nor a day five years ago when Windsor Castle suffered a terrible fire. More than a hundred rooms were badly damaged. But out of the disaster came opportunities for all sorts of people to display their range of skills, their love of history, and their faith in the future.

Last month the restoration of the Castle was completed and it is shortly to be open again for all to see. It is a mixture of the original with later additions and alterations - and, the result, a vigorous blend of the old and the new.

And so it has been in the Commonwealth. Prince Philip and I were touched by the way the Canadian people welcomed us again to Canada. We were delighted to be invited to Pakistan and India on the 50th anniversary of their Independence, and to celebrate their achievements since 1947.

The Prince of Wales represented Britain when the people of Hong Kong marked their return to China - in spectacular fashion. Many of you might have felt a twinge of sadness as we in Britain bade them farewell, but we should be proud of the success of our partnership in Hong Kong and in how peacefully the old Empire has been laid to rest.

Out of the old Empire sprang the Commonwealth family of nations that we know today, and that, too, has grown and changed over the years.

In October, 51 representatives of Commonwealth governments met in Edinburgh, very much in the spirit of a family gathering. We all enjoy meeting old friends and making new ones, but there was also important business to be done. The world saw that the Commonwealth can make a major contribution to international relations and prosperity.

The meeting also showed that unity and diversity can go hand in hand. Recent developments at home, which have allowed Scotland and Wales greater say in the way they are governed, should be seen in that light and as proof that the kingdom can still enjoy all the benefits of remaining united.

Being united - that is, feeling a unity of purpose - is the glue that bonds together the members of a family, a country, a Commonwealth. Without it, the parts are only fragments of a whole; with it, we can be much more than the sum of those fragments.

For most of us this is a happy family day. But I am well aware that there are many of you who are alone, bereaved, or suffering. My heart goes out to you, and I pray that we, the more fortunate ones, can unite to lend a helping hand whenever it is needed, and not 'pass by on the other side'.

St Paul spoke of the first Christmas as the kindness of God dawning upon the world. The world needs that kindness now more than ever - the kindness and consideration for others that disarms malice and allows us to get on with one another with respect and affection.

Christmas reassures us that God is with us today. But, as I have discovered afresh for myself this year, he is always present in the kindness shown by our neighbours and the love of our friends and family.

God bless you all and Happy Christmas.

Related content

Feature

The 75th Anniversary of VE Day

The 75th Anniversary of VE Day
News

Royal Maundy Service 2016

24 March 2016

Christmas Broadcast 2015

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

25 December 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 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

Christmas Broadcast 2014

For every poppy a life; and a reminder of the grief of loved ones left behind.

25 December 2014

Christmas Broadcast 2013

We are forever grateful to all those who put themselves at risk to keep us safe.

25 December 2013
Press release 01 January 2013

The Queen’s Medal for Music 2013

Read more

A speech by The Queen at Lambeth Palace, 2012

The Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country

15 February 2012
Press release 21 February 2011

The Duke of York appointed GCVO

Read more
Press release 19 January 2011

SKY to produce The Queen’s Christmas Broadcast

Read more

Christmas Broadcast 2010

Right around the world, people gather to compete under standard rules and, in most cases, in a spirit of friendly rivalry.

25 December 2010

A speech by The Queen at the General Synod Inauguration, 2010

At the heart of our faith stand not a preoccupation with our own welfare and comfort but the concepts of service and of sacrifice.

23 November 2010
Press release September 2010

Papal Visit Programme, 16 September 2010

Read more

A speech by The Queen during the Papal Visit, 2010

Your Holiness, your presence here today reminds us of our common Christian heritage, and of the Christian contribution to the encouragement of world peace.

16 September 2010

A speech by The Queen at the Sydney Opera House

It is my duty to seek to remain true to the interests of Australia and all Australians as we enter the twenty-first century.

20 March 2010

Christmas Broadcast 2009

I am confident that this diverse Commonwealth of nations can strengthen the common bond that transcends politics, religion, race and economic circumstances.

25 December 2009
Press release 09 July 2009

New appointment to the Order of Merit

Read more

Christmas Broadcast 2008

When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.

25 December 2008

A speech by The Queen at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth

My grandfather, father, husband and two sons have all undergone training here, and I have had many visits over the years.

10 April 2008

Christmas Broadcast 2007

The Christmas story also draws attention to all those people who are on the edge of society

25 December 2007

Christmas Broadcast 2006

The birth of a baby brings great happiness - but then the business of growing up begins.

25 December 2006

A speech by The Queen at Mansion House for Her Majesty's 80th Birthday

As Groucho Marx once said "Anyone can get old - all you have to do is to live long enough". And there are in my view many other anniversaries this year which are more...

15 June 2006

Christmas Broadcast 2005

These natural and human tragedies provided the headline news; they also provoked a quite remarkable humanitarian response.

25 December 2005

Opening ceremony, eighth General Synod of the Church of England, 15 Nov 2005

When limitless amounts of information, much of it ephemeral, are instantly accessible on demand, there is a renewed hunger for that which endures and gives meaning.

15 November 2005

Norway State Banquet, 25 October 2005

I remember the bonfires along the coastline as we arrived and the enthusiastic welcome we received as guests of your grandfather, King Haakon.

25 October 2005
Press release 10 February 2005

Engagement of The Prince of Wales

Read more

Christmas Broadcast 2004

Everyone is our neighbour, no matter what race, creed or colour.

25 December 2004

Christmas Broadcast 2003

Separation at this time is especially hard to bear.

25 December 2003
Press release 23 April 2003

Announcement of The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2003

Read more

Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver, Canada, 7 October 2002

Je chéris ma place dans la vie du Canada et mon lien avec tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes.

07 October 2002