Good news is the focus in even the worst years

Christmas may have changed since her accession, and the situation in her household has shifted dramatically in the last week alone, but the Queen chose not to break with tradition in her message to the Commonwealth yesterday.

Choosing to avoid any reference to the expected divorce of her eldest son and his wife, the Queen focused on traditional themes - international strife and hardship and, of course, the good news.

Good news has been a comforting factor in her Christmas address to the nation in the last few years of her troubled reign. In 1992, the year she had called her "annus horribilis" in a speech just before Christmas, the collapse of the marriages of her two eldest sons was heavily publicised and Windsor Castle was badly damaged by fire. But in that year's Christmas message she did not refer specifically to such problems. Instead, she paid tribute to Lord Cheshire VC, the founder of Cheshire Homes for the disabled. She acknowledged the difficult days the family had faced but stressed the continuity of her reign. "To me, this continuity is a great source of comfort in a world of change, tension and violence," she said.

Last year she also tried to extract good news from a bad year, reciting a 1919 poem from Siegfried Sassoon, Everybody Sang. She quoted: "Everybody suddenly burst out singing; And I was filled with such delight."

The theme of good news keeps recurring. Ten years ago it cropped up "in spite of the frightening headlines". "It used to be said," she recalled, "that `no news is good news', but today you might well think that, `good news is no news'."

In 1975, there was a similar message of optimism: "If enough grains of sand are dropped into one side of a pair of scales they will, in the end, tip against a lump of lead."

In previous decades, the Queen was more inclined to talk about her family than she is now. She praised "the great family festival" of Christmas in her 1965 address, but her first speech in 1952 was much more personal. "Each Christmas, at this time, my beloved father broadcast a message to his people in all parts of the world. Today I am doing this to you who are my people. As he used to do."

The following year the Queen was revealed as a proud parent, a quality she has seldom shown recently. "We all want our children at Christmas time. I hope that perhaps mine are listening to me now, and I am sure that when the time comes they, too, will be great travellers."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk