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Royal Christmas

A famous royal speech that still inspires in difficult days

Windsor Castle

They were the words spoken by a king as a country looked to him for inspiration and, legend has it, they were handed to him by the heir who would go on to make history. Now, they pay tribute to them both, written for posterity at the chapel where both now rest. Another King will give the royal Christmas speech this December but the words of one of the most famous festive addresses of all still echo.

During Britain’s first Christmas of World War Two in 1939, George VI broadcast to the country and quoted a few lines of a poem which became forever associated with him.

They come from ‘The Gate of the Year’, a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins. It was a favourite of George’s wife, Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother and the King included them in his broadcast to offer hope and inspiration. Later, it was said that the poem was passed to George VI ahead of the recording by his elder daughter, Elizabeth, who went on to reign for seventy years.

Elizabeth II is said to have taken great comfort from these words and they provided solace to millions when they were used in that famous royal broadcast in 1939. They speak of hope and faith in the future, at moments when that future remains unknown.

They mark her final resting place, too. They are engraved at the King George VI Chapel in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor where Elizabeth II was buried alongside her beloved father and mother, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Prince Philip is also buried there and the ashes of Princess Margaret were interred there, too.

The words echo still through the years, bringing the same message of hope in a year when Britain saw a King crowned once more.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.