Christmas Broadcast 2008
Published 25 December 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.
The Queen's 2008 Christmas Broadcast focused on celebration and reflection in the year that The Prince of Wales celebrated his 60th birthday.
Christmas is a time for celebration, but this year it is a more sombre occasion for many. Some of those things which could once have been taken for granted suddenly seem less certain and, naturally, give rise to feelings of insecurity.
People are touched by events which have their roots far across the world. Whether it is the global economy or violence in a distant land, the effects can be keenly felt at home. Once again, many of our service men and women are serving on operations in common cause to bring peace and security to troubled places.
In this ninetieth year since the end of the First World War, the last survivors recently commemorated the service and enormous sacrifice of their own generation. Their successors in theatres such as Iraq and Afghanistan are still to be found in harm’s way in the service of others. For their loved ones, the worry will never cease until they are safely home.
In such times as these we can all learn some lessons from the past. We might begin to see things in a new perspective. And certainly, we begin to ask ourselves where it is that we can find lasting happiness.
Over the years, those who have seemed to me to be the most happy, contented and fulfilled have always been the people who have lived the most outgoing and unselfish lives; the kind of people who are generous with their talents or their time. There are those who use their prosperity or good fortune for the benefit of others whether they number among the great philanthropists or are people who, with whatever they have, simply have a desire to help those less fortunate than themselves.
What they offer comes in the form of what can easily be recognised as service to the nation or service to the wider community. As often as not however, their unselfishness is a simply-taken-for-granted part of the life of their family or neighbourhood.
They tend to have some sense that life itself is full of blessings, and is a precious gift for which we should be thankful. 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.
I think we have a huge amount to learn from individuals such as these. And what I believe many of us share with them is a source of strength and peace of mind in our families and friends. Indeed, Prince Philip and I can reflect on the blessing, comfort and support we have gained from our own family in this special year for our son, The Prince of Wales.
Sixty years ago, he was baptised here in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace. As parents and grandparents, we feel great pride in seeing our family make their own unique contributions to society. Through his charities, The Prince of Wales has worked to support young people and other causes for the benefit of the wider community, and now his sons are following in his footsteps.
At Christmas, we feel very fortunate to have our family around us. But for many of you, this Christmas will mean separation from loved ones and perhaps reflection on the memories of those no longer with us.
I hope that, like me, you will be comforted by the example of Jesus of Nazareth who, often in circumstances of great adversity, managed to live an outgoing, unselfish and sacrificial life. Countless millions of people around the world continue to celebrate his birthday at Christmas, inspired by his teaching. He makes it clear that genuine human happiness and satisfaction lie more in giving than receiving; more in serving than in being served.
We can surely be grateful that, two thousand years after the birth of Jesus, so many of us are able to draw inspiration from his life and message, and to find in him a source of strength and courage. I hope that the Christmas message will encourage and sustain you too, now and in the coming year.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas.
Christmas Broadcast 1970
Never before has there been a group of independent nations linked in this way by their common history and continuing affection.
Christmas Broadcast 1969
In a short time the 1960s will be over but not out of our memories. Historians will record them as the decade in which men first reached out beyond our own planet and set foot...
Christmas Broadcast 1968
At times it is almost hidden by the merry making and tinsel, but the essential message of Christmas is still that we all belong to the great brotherhood of man.
Christmas Broadcast 1967
Let there be no doubt that Britain is faced with formidable problems, but let there also be no doubt she will overcome them.
Christmas Broadcast 1966
The devotion of nuns and nurses, the care of mothers and wives, the service of teachers, and the conviction of reformers are the real and enduring presents which women have...
Christmas Broadcast 1965
A new army is on the march which holds out the brightest hopes for all mankind.
Christmas Broadcast 1964
You young people are needed; there is a great task ahead of you - the building of a new world.
Christmas Broadcast 1963
We know the reward is peace on earth, goodwill toward men, but we cannot win it without determination and concerted effort.
Christmas Broadcast 1962
Year by year, our families change and grow up. So does our Commonwealth family.
Christmas Broadcast 1961
For that child was to show that there is nothing in heaven and earth that cannot be achieved by faith and by love and service to one's neighbour.
Christmas Broadcast 1960
Although the contribution which any one person can make is small, it is real and important.
Christmas Broadcast 1959
As the old year passes, let us celebrate Christmas with thanksgiving and carry its message of peace and good will into the year ahead.
Christmas Broadcast 1958
Every year I look forward to opening the letters, parcels and telegrams that come to me from all parts of the world.
Christmas Broadcast 1957
Twenty-five years ago my grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see...
A speech by The Queen to the UN General Assembly, 1957
Common ideals and hopes, not formal bonds, unite the members of the Commonwealth and promote that association between them which, in my belief, has contributed significantly...
Christmas Broadcast 1956
Neither the long and troubled centuries that have passed since that child was born, nor the complex scientific developments of our age, have done anything to dim the simple...
Christmas Broadcast 1955
I always feel that just for these few minutes, the march of history stops while we listen to each other, and think of each other, on Christmas Day.
Christmas Broadcast 1953
At the same time I want to show that the Crown is not merely an abstract symbol of our unity but a personal and living bond between you and me.
The Queen's Coronation Oath, 1953
The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.
A speech by The Queen on her Coronation Day, 1953
Throughout this memorable day I have been uplifted and sustained by the knowledge that your thoughts and prayers were with me.
Christmas Broadcast 1952
Since my accession ten months ago, your loyalty and affection have been an immense support and encouragement. I want to take this Christmas Day, my first opportunity, to thank...
A speech by the Queen on her 21st Birthday, 1947
I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.