Twenty-five years ago my grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas
messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for
many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas Day. My own family often gather
round to watch television as they are this moment, and that is how I imagine you
I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more
personal and direct.
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.
That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of
the speed at which things are changing all around us. Because of these changes I
am not surprised that many people feel lost and unable to decide what to hold on
to and what to discard. How to take advantage of the new life without losing the
best of the old.
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, honestly counted as foolishness and self-interest set up in place
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
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
This year Ghana and Malaya joined our brotherhood. Both these countries are now
entirely self-governing. Both achieved their new status amicably and peacefully.
This advance is a wonderful tribute to the efforts of men of goodwill who have
worked together as friends, and I welcome these two countries with all my heart.
Last October I opened the new Canadian Parliament, and as you know this was the
first time that any Sovereign had done so in Ottawa. Once again I was
overwhelmed by the loyalty and enthusiasm of my Canadian people.
Also during 1957 my husband and I paid visits to Portugal, France, Denmark and
the United States of America. In each case the arrangements and formalities were
managed with great skill but no one could have 'managed' the welcome we received
from the people.
In each country I was welcomed as Head of the Commonwealth and as your
representative. These nations are our friends largely because we have always
tried to do our best to be honest and kindly and because we have tried to stand
up for what we believe to be right.
In the old days the monarch led his soldiers on the battlefield and his
leadership at all times was close and personal.
Today things are very different. I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give
you laws or administer justice but I can do something else, I can give you my
heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our
brotherhood of nations.
I believe in our qualities and in our strength, I believe that together we can
set an example to the world which will encourage upright people everywhere.
I would like to read you a few lines from 'Pilgrim's Progress', because I am
sure we can say with Mr Valiant for Truth, these words:
"Though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all
the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that
shall succeed me in my pilgrimage and my courage and skill to him that can get
it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have
fought his battles who now will be my rewarder."
I hope that 1958 may bring you God's blessing and all the things you long for.
And so I wish you all, young and old, wherever you may be, all the fun and
enjoyment, and the peace of a very happy Christmas.