Hello subjects gather round: We are going to patronise you. We say patronise, even though we are clearly female, but one must stick with the old ways mustn’t one? We also say “We” when we mean “I”, but that’s another matter. Anyway, no need to bother your little heads about it all; Oh, and we promise to try not to use Latin if we can help it, even though we all talk in that particular tongue around the palace all the time.
“Andrew, cornflakes velit transcendere.”
“Tibi gratias ago tibi puer carae”
Where were we?
Oh yes. Every year we mark the Herald Angel singing at Christmas by turning on the lights in towns and shopping places all over our realm. Of course, light does more than create a festive mood —light brings cash registers to life.
For Christians, Jesus is ‘the light of the world’, but we can’t celebrate his birth today in quite the usual way because one simply cannot send one’s staff to the shops. People of all faiths have had similar problems, and some have even been unable to shop online. But we need life to go on.
Last month, fireworks lit up the sky in remembrance of a gallant attempt to blow up our Houses of Parliament, providing a joyous reminder of hope and unity across the land — despite social distancing. It reminds us all here in the big house that we have to keep a weather eye on you jolly plebeian souls – just to exercise an abundance of caution.
Remarkably, a year that has necessarily kept people apart has, in many ways, brought us closer. Certainly, it is clear that I need to keep some of my family under closer control and to put limits on driving and even attending a straightforward shooting weekend.
Across the Commonwealth, my family and I have been utterly perplexed by stories of people volunteering in their communities, helping those in need. Why do they do such things when they could be amassing great personal wealth?
In the United Kingdom and around the world, people have risen magnificently to the challenges of the year. I am so proud and moved by this quiet, indomitable spirit and relieved that these distractions have served your Monarch so well. To our rather uncritical people in particular I say thank you for the part you have played.
This year, we celebrated International Nurses’ Day, on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Luckily an equerry came up with the name of Mary Seacole, to get me out of another “White, well-connected female” problem so I could talk to you in cliches about shining lamps of hope and all that rousing stuff.
Today, our front-line services still shine that lamp for us – supported by the amazing achievements of modern science – and we owe them a debt of gratitude. Not one that will be repaid in my lifetime, I hasten to add! Indeed, we continue to be perplexed by the kindness of strangers and wonder how – on the darkest of nights – you all still hold on to the hope of a new dawn.
Jesus touched on this with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The man who is robbed and left at the roadside – an altogether too familiar sight for many of you – is saved by someone who did not share his religion or culture. This wonderful story of kindness is still as relevant today. Left to rot by those who should have supported him, by the rich, by the fabric of his society; he was saved by the unexpected kindness of a stranger. Good Samaritans have emerged across society showing care and respect for all, regardless of gender, race or background, reminding us that the most well off can afford to disregard their responsibilities and leave things to those who have little themselves.
So as you can see, the teachings of Christ have served as my inner light, although we obviously baulk at turning any moneylenders out of the temple!
In November, we commemorated another hero – though appropriately – nobody knows his name. The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior isn’t a large memorial, but it is fitting for a symbol of pointless sacrifice in pursuit of the interests of the wealthy and powerful. Yes, selfless duty and ultimate sacrifice. The Unknown Warrior was not exceptional. That’s the point. He represents millions like him who throughout our history have been duped into putting the lives of others above their own and will be doing so today. For me, this is a source of enduring hope in protecting my own position in these difficult and unpredictable times.
Of course, for many, this time of year will be tinged with sadness: some mourning the loss of those dear to them, and others missing friends and family-members distanced for safety, when all they’d really want for Christmas is a simple meal, the security of somewhere to live and a feeling that family and society will care for them when they cannot do it for themselves. Let me tell you that you are not alone. There are millions like you and your number is growing as every day passes. So do not despair, let me assure you all that you remain in my thoughts and prayers. Now, that’s better isn’t it?
The Bible tells how a star appeared in the sky, its light guiding the shepherds and wise men to the scene of Jesus’s birth. Well, we still have some shepherds and although wise men are in short supply, we can still hope that the blight of competition — the spirit of selfishness, greed and, above all, couldn’t-care-less- ness — will keep some of us safe in the manner to which we have become accustomed in times ahead.
It is in that spirit that I wish you a very happy Christmas.