King Charles chooses chapel at Windsor for first Christmas message

Monarch expected to pay tribute to late mother during festive address from St George’s chapel

King Charles has chosen to broadcast his first Christmas message from St George’s chapel at Windsor Castle, where the committal service of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth, was held three months ago.

In a photograph released before the broadcast on Christmas Day, the king is seen standing in the quire for his inaugural festive address to the country and the rest of the Commonwealth.

No details about what he will say in his message have been released, but he is expected to pay personal tribute to his mother, who is laid to rest in the George VI memorial chapel within St George’s, alongside the Duke of Edinburgh.

It was recorded on 13 December, two days before the release of the final three episodes of the controversial Netflix Harry & Meghan documentary series in which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex attacked the royal family and the institution of the monarchy.

It seems unlikely the king will reference the personal family woes that have dogged his reign so far. His mother used her Christmas broadcasts to address universal themes, her faith, and the country’s highs – and lows – of the previous year.

One message he does convey, however, is his passion for matters environmental, with the Christmas tree featured in the broadcast decorated with ornaments made from sustainable materials including paper and glass, as well as natural pine cones. During the broadcast the choir of St George’s performs the national anthem and sings a carol.

Family members will gather at Sandringham and attend a Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene church. The royal standard was seen flying at the estate on Thursday, indicating the king had already arrived. He and Camilla, the Queen Consort are expected to be joined by family members including the Prince and Princess of Wales and their three children, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their two children.

In a break with tradition, the king and queen consort will reportedly head to their Birkhall home on the Balmoral estate in Scotland after the Christmas period. Queen Elizabeth usually remained at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk until after 6 February, her accession day, preferring to stay there until after the anniversary of the death of her father, George VI, at Sandringham in 1952.

Instead, King Charles is understood to prefer to continue his existing tradition of spending time in Scotland, and is expected to travel there in the new year.

Condolence cards containing financial donations sent to the king after the Queen’s death have been passed to the Fuel Bank Foundation, along with an additional donation from Charles via The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund.

Matthew Cole, the head of the national charity, which provides fuel vouchers, said: “The money will be used to help keep vulnerable people warm this winter, offering some physical and mental respite from the challenges posed by the energy and cost of living crisis.”


Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

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