This is a repost from telegraph.co.uk. The link is found at the end of the article. Some photos were removed to make for a rather quick browse. Please see the original. Merry Christmas!
Her Majesty the Queen turns to scripture during her speech to address the several atrocities that shook the world in 2015
Quoting directly from the Gospel of John, she spoke of light which “shines in the darkness” which she described as a “verse of great hope”.
Her comments come at the end of a year in which Britain has been stunned by terrorist atrocities, from the mass shootings and bombings in Paris last month to the gun attack at a Tunisia resort during the summer.
Reflecting on the past 12 months, the monarch said: “It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year.
“But the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’.”
In a year that marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, the Queen offered renewed thanks for the service and sacrifice of those who took part in the conflict.
“One cause for thankfulness this summer was marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War,” she said.
“On VJ Day, we honoured the remaining veterans of that terrible conflict in the Far East, as well as remembering the thousands who never returned.”
Acknowledging the birth of Princess Charlotte in May, the Queen said: “One of the joys of living a long life is watching one’s children, then grandchildren, then great grandchildren, help decorate the Christmas tree”
She added: “And this year my family has a new member to join in the fun!”
In a light-hearted nod to her 90th birthday celebrations next April, the monarch said: “I am looking forward to a busy 2016, though I have been warned I may have Happy Birthday sung to me more than once or twice.”
Touching on a more sombre note, the Queen said Christmas is a time that “allows us to reflect on the year that has passed, as we think of those who are far away or no longer with us.”
She went on: “Many people say the first Christmas after losing a loved one is particularly hard.”
She explained that the popularity of the Christmas tree is “due in part to my great-great grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert”.
A 19th century image of Victoria and Albert around a candle-lit tree was shown as the Queen said: “After this touching picture was published, many families wanted a Christmas tree of their own, and the custom soon spread.”
Queen Charlotte, the German-born wife of George III, is credited with introducing the Christmas tree to Britain. But it was Prince Albert who popularised it, presenting large numbers to schools and Army barracks.
Wearing a tweed day dress in white and silver by Angela Kelly, part of an outfit worn for a Diamond Jubilee visit to Wales in 2012, the Queen delivered her address in the 18th Century Room in Buckingham Palace
On her left shoulder she wore an art deco diamond and aquamarine brooch, previously owned by the Queen Mother, and around her neck she wore three strands of pearls.
She sits beside three family photographs. The first photo was taken to mark Princess Charlotte’s christening earlier this year by the celebrated Peruvian fashion photographer Mario Testino.
The second photo is of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on their wedding day in April 2005
The final image is an informal picture of the Queen, wearing a headscarf and jacket, and the Duke of Edinburgh, wearing a flat cap and jacket, laughing as they lean on walking sticks at an unknown country location.
The video montage at the start of the Queen’s message features the monarch in an array of brightly coloured outfits as she attends events including the state opening of Parliament and the Trooping the Colour ceremony.
The Christmas address, which was transmitted on television and radio at 3pm on Christmas Day, is written by the Queen.
It is one of the rare occasions when she does not turn to the Government for advice but is able to voice her own views.
The Queen’s speech in full
At this time of year, few sights evoke more feelings of cheer and goodwill than the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.
The popularity of a tree at Christmas is due in part to my great-great grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. After this touching picture was published, many families wanted a Christmas tree of their own, and the custom soon spread.
In 1949, I spent Christmas in Malta as a newly-married naval wife. We have returned to that island over the years, including last month for a meeting of Commonwealth leaders; and this year I met another group of leaders: The Queen’s Young Leaders, an inspirational group, each of them a symbol of hope in their own Commonwealth communities.
Gathering round the tree gives us a chance to think about the year ahead – I am looking forward to a busy 2016, though I have been warned I may have Happy Birthday sung to me more than once or twice.
It also allows us to reflect on the year that has passed, as we think of those who are far away or no longer with us. Many people say the first Christmas after losing a loved one is particularly hard. But it’s also a time to remember all that we have to be thankful for.
It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’.
One cause for thankfulness this summer was marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War. On VJ Day, we honoured the remaining veterans of that terrible conflict in the Far East, as well as remembering the thousands who never returned.
The procession from Horse Guards Parade to Westminster Abbey must have been one of the slowest ever, because so many people wanted to say ‘thank you’ to them.
An engraving published in the 1840s of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert created a craze for Christmas trees
At the end of that war, the people of Oslo began sending an annual gift of a Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square. It has 500 light bulbs and is enjoyed not just by Christians but by people of all faiths, and of none. At the very top sits a bright star, to represent the Star of Bethlehem.
The custom of topping a tree also goes back to Prince Albert’s time. For his family’s tree, he chose an angel, helping to remind us that the focus of the Christmas story is on one particular family.
For Joseph and Mary, the circumstances of Jesus’s birth – in a stable – were far from ideal, but worse was to come as the family was forced to flee the country. It’s no surprise that such a human story still captures our imagination and continues to inspire all of us who are Christians, the world over.
Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another. Although it is not an easy message to follow, we shouldn’t be discouraged; rather, it inspires us to try harder: to be thankful for the people who bring love and happiness into our own lives, and to look for ways of spreading that love to others, whenever and wherever we can.
One of the joys of living a long life is watching one’s children, then grandchildren, then great grandchildren, help decorate the Christmas tree. And this year my family has a new member to join in the fun!
The customary decorations have changed little in the years since that picture of Victoria and Albert’s tree first appeared, although of course electric lights have replaced the candles.
There’s an old saying that ‘it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness’.
There are millions of people lighting candles of hope in our world today. Christmas is a good time to be thankful for them, and for all that brings light to our lives.
I wish you a very happy Christmas.
By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor, and Camilla Turner, video source ITN 2:21PM GMT 25 Dec 2015