King Charles hails faith groups for 'selfless dedication' in first Christmas Day speech

UK's new monarch also praises charities for helping others during cost-of-living crisis

King Charles gave his first Christmas Day speech from the Quire of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. PA
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King Charles III used his first Christmas broadcast to praise the “wonderfully kind people” who have supported those struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

In his first address since ascending the throne four months ago, the king, 74, sympathised with families across the UK who are struggling to cope with rising household bills.

He commended individuals, charities and faith groups for their tireless work and for providing crucial help to those in need.

The king said many people are experiencing “great anxiety and hardship” when trying to “pay their bills and keep their families fed and warm”.

His televised message included footage of a foodbank and other scenes of meals being distributed to the homeless.

Britain is grappling with an economic crisis due in part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has caused fuel and energy prices to rise quickly.

He said he shared the late queen’s “faith in people”, which can touch the lives of others with “goodness and compassion”, something he described as the “essence of our community and the very foundation of our society”.

King Charles led his family to church on Christmas morning. AFP

These qualities were reflected in the “selfless dedication” of the armed forces, health and social care professionals, teachers and all those who work in public service.

He added: “And at this time of great anxiety and hardship, be it for those around the world facing conflict, famine or natural disaster, or for those at home finding ways to pay their bills and keep their families fed and warm, we see it in the humanity of people throughout our nations and the Commonwealth who so readily respond to the plight of others.

“I particularly want to pay tribute to all those wonderfully kind people who so generously give food or donations, or that most precious commodity of all, their time, to support those around them in greatest need, together with the many charitable organisations which do such extraordinary work in the most difficult circumstances.”

The king’s speech was delivered from the Quire of St George’s Chapel, mirroring the late Queen Elizabeth’s 1999 festive address. It followed his mother’s well-established template, a personal reflection on the year, touching on current issues and with a Christian framework.

But the monarch also reached out to other faiths, highlighting how religious communities were helping those in financial difficulties and, like Christians, believed in the “power of light overcoming darkness”.

During his decades as monarch-in-waiting, the then-Prince of Wales was known for his extensive work with different faith groups.

“Our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras, have once again united in feeding the hungry, providing love and support throughout the year,” he said.

“Such heartfelt solidarity is the most inspiring expression of loving our neighbour as our self.”

The central theme of his speech was a celebration of “selfless dedication”, a value embodied by his late mother and reflected in the actions of many, from the emergency services to members of the public, which helped to build and strengthen communities.

The pre-recorded message opened with the king reflecting on how he was standing “so close to where my beloved mother, the late queen, is laid to rest with my dear father” in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, and he thanked the public for the “love and sympathy” expressed in cards and messages of condolence.

He also described how the festive period was a “poignant time” for bereaved families, adding: “We feel their absence at every familiar turn of the season and remember them in each cherished tradition."

This year the royals have gathered at Sandringham in Norfolk to celebrate their first Christmas since the death of the queen in September.

The televised message also included a clip of the Prince and Princess of Wales visiting St Thomas Church in Swansea in September.

“The Prince and Princess of Wales recently visited Wales, shining a light on practical examples of this community spirit,” he said.

William and Kate’s trip to Swansea, and earlier that day to Anglesey, was their first visit to Wales since receiving their titles and the prince helped pack a family food parcel for a foodbank based at St Thomas, while the princess chatted with community nursery nurses who provide support services for mothers of newborns..

King Charles III in 2022 - in pictures

Updated: December 26, 2022, 3:50 AM