December 28

The first Royal Christmas Broadcast

"With a hoarse voice as if roughened by weather, King George V delivered the first Royal Christmas Broadcast – written by author and poet Rudyard Kipling – from a study at Sandringham House, Norfolk, on Christmas Day 1932.

"The text, of timeless simplicity, bore the hallmark of the master: 'I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all; to men and women so cut off by the snows, the desert, or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them.'

The following video is about the King's Christmas Message to the Empire in 1935.


"In emphatic tones and the accent of an Edwardian country gentleman, it sufficed to carry his words to world-wide acclaim. With its very first delivery, the Christmas broadcast from Sandringham had become an institution.

"Legend has it that the King used a gold microphone. It was in fact a standard one encased in Australian walnut. A thick cloth covered the table to deaden the sound of rustling paper, for the King's hands were known to tremble with nervousness.

"He spoke from a little room under the stairs: 'I broadcast a short message of 251 words to the whole Empire from Francis' room.'

"Although moved by its reception, the King had no wish to repeat his triumph. It was an ordeal, he complained, which spoilt his Christmas. Some of his courtiers also thought (correctly, as it turns out) that an annual broadcast would lose its impact through familiarity.

"The politicians were of course encouraging, even if the King was unimpressed. He agreed to continue only when shown a batch of appreciative letters throughout the Empire.

"The broadcasts of 1933, 1934 and 1935 never quite achieved the sublime appeal of 1932; perhaps the replacement of Kipling by Archbishop Lang as the principal draftsman exchanged magic for mere eloquence.

"Yet all who gathered year after year for the King's Christmas message awaited the voice of a friend."

[Source: King George V, by biographer Kenneth Rose from that truly excellent Canadian site  The Monarchist. ]



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