Reportedly, since 1952, except for one year, Queen Elizabeth II has shared a Christmas message with citizens of the Commonwealth. The content and themes, written and directed by her with the assistance of Prince Phillip and her staff, have chronicled events of the year together with personal wishes. This year, it was mainly personal perspective.
In the absence of published research, one can only speculate with regard to the level of interest the Christmas message holds. That said, without question, the 2018 message of Her Majesty, now 92 years old and the longest serving monarch of England, offered thoughtful responses to some major issues of the world today.
For example, can anyone dispute that societies have become politically polarized, that cultural, social and economic gaps and divisions are wider, and that nationalism is growing? And can anyone deny that this division has led to selective listening and resignation?
The published excerpts of the pre-release of her message pre-recorded at Buckingham Palace, said in part:
“Queen Elizabeth will urge people to put aside ‘deeply held differences’ in her Christmas message as Brexit looms and rumours about feuding within her family swirl.”
Specifically, she will say: “Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good step towards greater understanding.”
How did we get here? Interestingly, yesteryear in Barbados, and elsewhere, if anyone called another an idiot, if one used four-letter words, if one’s shoes were not clean and shining, such misbehaviour was monitored and condemned by elders of the family, a friend, or a neighbour. In some cases, the punishment was swift, physical, lasting and painful. Indeed, in villages and communities, there were pillars of strength – teachers, clergy, patriarchs, community leaders, among others, hailed as champions of standards.
But times have changed. The kind word and the flagships are now the exception and not the rule.
But, back to themes of the Queen’s message, which contained personal reflections and shared her sources of strength:
“Through the many changes I have seen over the years, faith, family and friendship have been not only a constant for me but a source of personal comfort and reassurance… I believe the birth of Jesus. I believe his message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone; it’s needed as much as ever… Some cultures believe a long life brings wisdom; I’d like to think so. Perhaps part of that wisdom is to recognize some of life’s baffling paradoxes, such as the way human beings have a huge propensity for good and yet a capacity for evil,” explained Her Majesty.
For the fashion buffs, for the broadcast, Queen Elizabeth II reportedly wore a cocktail dress in ivory silk with pastel blue, white and gold lame overlay designed by Angela Kelly, and her gold Scarab brooch. The message was recorded in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.
In the end, this royal Christmas message tradition which has the capacity, like other messages, to make the world a better place will be filtered by the same people it speaks to. That is the real dilemma every messenger and leader faces. That is the danger of divided societies. However, it is the spirit of Christmas that should persuade messengers to continue to deliver messages of hope and believe that it will be read and heard. The Queen’s YouTube video message is a good listen.
Walter Edey is an author and retired educator who believes that Structural Thinking is the bright wave of the future.