Queen’s Speech 1957: Remembering the Queen’s first televised address

Queen: Commentator discusses placement of brooch

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On Christmas Day, the Queen is set for a particularly personal speech, according to reports. She has given her blessing to a service of thanksgiving for the life of the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip will be celebrated during a service at Westminster Abbey in the spring, bringing together family, friends and representatives of his many charities for a poignant moment of grieving and thanks. The Queen will wear a sapphire chrysanthemum brooch, originally given to her during a royal engagement in 1946 when she launched an oil tanker named the ‘British Princess’.

It’s an important accessory, as she also wore it in a photo with Philip during their honeymoon in 1947.

The Queen made his first televised Christmas speech in 1957, four years after being crowned as monarch.

The royal tradition, known as the King’s Christmas Message, began in 1932, and the short address was an opportunity for the monarch to reflect on the year’s major events and the royal family’s personal milestones.

Prior to 1957, it had been broadcast to the Commonwealth nations via radio.

The Queen said in her first Christmas speech that she hoped that it would be more personal as a result of it being televised.

She said: “I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct.”

Her Majesty continued: “It is inevitable that I should seem a rather remote figure to many of you,.

“A successor to the Kings and Queens of history; someone whose face may be familiar in newspapers and films but who never really touches your personal lives.

“But now at least for a few minutes I welcome you to the peace of my own home.”

Richard Webber, who was in charge of production, told The Telegraph in 2012: “We had a run-through on the day and then went straight into the live broadcast.

“The Queen was extremely accomplished with the teleprompter and read the message brilliantly.

“She is a stickler for detail, and during her broadcast she refers to lines from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, and picks up a book from her desk.”

The first Christmas speech on television nearly included a small mistake, however.

Mr Webber added: “The lines were printed on a sheet of paper inserted inside the book.

“However, in the run-through the Queen quickly spotted that it wasn’t the right book and asked whether there was a copy in the library.

“Sure enough, there was. I’m sure viewers wouldn’t have noticed but full marks to the Queen for thinking about it.

“We used one camera mounted on a dolly, which allowed us to push the camera closer to the Queen as she started reading. Everything went to plan but I was terribly nervous throughout.”

Despite their success, the Queen’s live televised broadcasts didn’t last long. In 1960, the message was pre-recorded from Buckingham Palace.

The process was more convenient for everyone involved, and it meant a film reel of the message could be sent to all Commonwealth nations well in advance of Christmas day.

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The Queen also used her first speech to advocate for the preservation of tradition, even in a world that was swiftly modernising.

She said: “But it is not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery.

“They would have religion thrown aside, morality in personal and public life made meaningless, honesty counted as foolishness and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint.

“At this critical moment in our history we will certainly lose the trust and respect of the world if we just abandon those fundamental principles which guided the men and women who built the greatness of this country and Commonwealth.

“Today we need a special kind of courage, not the kind needed in battle but a kind which makes us stand up for everything that we know is right, everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics so that we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future.

“It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult. That is why we can take a pride in the new Commonwealth we are building.”

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