The Christmas Broadcast 2016
I wish you all a very happy Christmas
There was a time when British Olympic medal winners became household names because there were so few of them. But the 67 medals at this year’s Games in Rio and 147 at the Paralympics meant that the GB medallists' reception at Buckingham Palace was a crowded and happy event. Throughout the Commonwealth there were equally joyful celebrations. Grenada, the Bahamas, Jamaica and New Zealand won more medals per head of population than any other countries.
Many of this year’s winners spoke of being inspired by athletes of previous generations. Inspiration fed their aspiration; and having discovered abilities they scarcely knew they had, these athletes are now inspiring others.
A few months ago, I saw inspiration of a different kind when I opened the new Cambridge base of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, where Prince William works as a helicopter pilot. It was not hard to be moved by the dedication of the highly skilled doctors, paramedics and crew, who are called-out on average five times a day.
But to be inspirational you don't have to save lives or win medals. I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special.
They are an inspiration to those who know them, and their lives frequently embody a truth expressed by Mother Teresa, from this year Saint Teresa of Calcutta. She once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
This has been the experience of two remarkable organisations, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Prince’s Trust, which are sixty and forty years old this year. These started as small initiatives but have grown beyond any expectations, and continue to transform young people's lives.
To mark my 90th birthday, volunteers and supporters of the six hundred charities of which I have been patron came to a lunch in The Mall. Many of these organisations are modest in size but inspire me with the work they do. From giving friendship and support to our veterans, the elderly or the bereaved; to championing music and dance; providing animal welfare; or protecting our fields and forests, their selfless devotion and generosity of spirit is an example to us all.
When people face a challenge they sometimes talk about taking a deep breath to find courage or strength. In fact, the word 'inspire' literally means 'to breathe in'. But even with the inspiration of others, it’s understandable that we sometimes think the world's problems are so big that we can do little to help. On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.
At Christmas, our attention is drawn to the birth of a baby some two thousand years ago. It was the humblest of beginnings, and his parents, Joseph and Mary, did not think they were important.
Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.
The message of Christmas reminds us that inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received, and that love begins small but always grows.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas.
A speech by The Duchess of Edinburgh, via video message, at the Restoration of the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Survivors’ Rights Conference, Ukraine
We must stand shoulder to shoulder with all survivors to secure justice and holistic redress, and ensure that this crime isn’t an accepted part of conflict.
The King's message marking two years of conflict in Ukraine
My heart goes out to all those affected, as I remember them in my thoughts and prayers.
The Queen celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Poppy Factory at Clarence House15 February 2024
A message from His Majesty The King to Grenada marking their 50th year of Independence
On the occasion of the fiftieth Anniversary of the Independence of Grenada, it gives me great pleasure to send you all my congratulations and warmest good wishes.
The Duchess of Edinburgh visited the volunteer team at The Lighthouse in Woking.02 February 2024
The Queen opened Maggie's new cancer support centre at the Royal Free Hospital01 February 2024
A message from His Majesty The King for the launch of Big Help Out 2024
I have long believed that one of the greatest strengths of our nation is our ability to come together and help each other through times of hardship. Throughout my life, I have...
The Queen hosts authors and illustrators of the new Modern-Day Miniature Library30 January 2024
The Queen's Introduction to Queen Mary's Dolls' House's Modern-Day Miniature Library
It has continued to enchant generations of children and adults who come to marvel at its perfect proportions, extraordinary attention to detail and, perhaps above all, the...
A message from His Majesty The King to Their Majesties King Frederik X and Queen Mary of Denmark
I look forward to working with you on ensuring that the enduring bond between our countries, and our families, remains strong, and to working together with you on issues which...
The King's Christmas Broadcast 2023
And at a time of increasingly tragic conflict around the World, I pray that we can also do all in our power to protect each other.