King George VI – Christmas In Wartime 1943
King George VI, in an address to the people of the Commonwealth and the allies, on Christmas Day 1943.
In a tradition which began in 1932, the King of England (and later Queen), gave a Christmas address to the English speaking world, a sort of end-of-the-year assessment of the world and the British Empire (which at the time was considerable) via shortwave during the early days of broadcasting. During the war years, the addresses were crucial and helped unify the British people and those in the Commonwealth for the common cause of winning the war.
Although King George was no orator, and his speech impediment became the subject of a popular recent film, his addresses were eagerly anticipated events and were one of the few instances where the Royal Family spoke publicly without advise from any Ministers of the Crown.
The tradition continues to this day, with recent Christmas addresses delivered online and even in 3D in 2012. The first televised Christmas Message began in 1957.
In 1943, with war still raging, and tides beginning to turn, there was light at the end of the tunnel on this Christmas. But the war was far from over, and the Allied invasion of Europe was still some months off. In the meantime, gains were slow and hard-fought, and every small piece of a morale boost was desperately needed.
But this Christmas message, from December 25, 1943, even though it’s at the peak of War when things were still uncertain, the message of hope is loud and clear. And even though the entire address is a little over 10 minutes, the impact was immeasurable.
Here is that address, as it was broadcast to the world on December 25, 1943 by the BBC and relayed to the U.S. via the combined networks of CBS, NBC and mutual.