Queen's message breaks tradition
Finally, it seems, the Queen is in tune with the popular mood. If there was one thing her subjects wished to hear in the Christmas broadcast, it was a display of emotion about Diana, Princess of Wales. And there it was, right at the start of her message.
Westminster Abbey, she said, had been the setting this year for both Diana's funeral and her own 50th wedding anniversary celebration, two events, "one of them almost unbearably sad, and one, for Prince Philip and me, tremendously happy".
Quoting from William Blake about the "silken twine" of joy that often accompanies woe, she said: "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." It was a more relaxed Queen who spoke yesterday, an indication that she has taken to heart the calls after the Princess's death for a modern monarchy, more accessible to the people.
The broadcast marked a departure in other ways too. Produced for the first time by ITN instead of the BBC, it was in documentary format, with the Queen's words intercut with footage from the funeral, royal visits and the Commonwealth summit in Edinburgh.
At nine minutes and 55 seconds, it was the longest royal Christmas message since George V began the tradition in 1932, and it was also the first to be on the Internet.
The Queen remarked on the flowers and condolences left in tribute to Diana and said they had been "a great comfort to all those close to her". As she spoke, scenes from the funeral were shown, including a shot of Prince Harry, his face crumpled in grief.
The Queen came close to endorsing devolution for Scotland and Wales, while expressing confidence that the Kingdom remained united. It was her first opportunity to address the nation since she appeared on television a week after the Princess's death in response to disquiet at the royal silence amid outpourings of grief.
Part of the broadcast was filmed at Windsor Castle, where the Queen showed restoration work on St George's Hall, ravaged by fire five years ago.
It finished on another personal note. "Christmas reaffirms that God is with us today," the Queen said. "But, as I have discovered myself afresh this year, he is always present in the kindness shown by our neighbours and in the love of our friends and family."
In his Christmas Day sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, made a plea for a more caring society, but said it was only attainable if the worth of every individual was recognised. Dr Carey said God was "still with us". He went on: "Not absent from the poor, the broken-hearted, the refugee and the homeless. Not absent from the single mother, the person living on the breadline and the unemployed teenager."
He added that Christmas "asserts the importance of family life and living in community with each other".
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...