Some of Europe’s Kings and Queens gave their annual speeches this Christmas. Besides wishing their subjects the best during one of the biggest holidays of the year, the monarchs encouraged their subjects in being better citizens, and also touched on the difficulties many faced in 2009.
Spain’s King Juan Carlos delivered his speech on Christmas Eve. On national television, the King called for unity in order to have a better country. He asked his people to “overcome tensions and difficulties”, follow the Constitution’s values, and “to strengthen the internal cohesion and the international image of the country,” and to “make economy grow up again to create jobs as soon as possible.”
As every year, Juan Carlos remembered the victims of terrorism and gave his condolences to their families. “They count on the support, solidarity and affection of the Crown and also of the Spanish society. Finishing with terrorism is a target for all democrats in defense of freedom and basic human rights,” he said.
On Christmas Day, three other European monarchs spoke to their people. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II called 2009 a “difficult” year during her speech which was broadcast at 1500 GMT.
“2009 was a difficult year for many, in particular those facing the continuing effects of the economic downturn,” the 83-year-old Queen said. “We may ourselves be confronted by a bewildering array of difficulties and challenges, but we must never cease to work for a better future for ourselves and for others.”
She went on to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the conflicts in Afghanistan.
“I am sure that we have all been affected by events in Afghanistan and saddened by the casualties suffered by our forces serving there,” she said. “Our thoughts go out to their relations and friends who have shown immense dignity in the face of great personal loss.”
Queen Elizabeth also praised the Commonwealth, which celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, and called it the “face of the future.”
“In many aspects of our lives, whether in sport, the environment, business or culture, the Commonwealth connection remains vivid and enriching…It is important to keep discussing issues that concern us all — there can be no more valuable role for our family of nations.”
Another Queen, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, chose to discuss technology and human interaction in her Christmas speech, airing first in the morning, and then in the afternoon.
“Real contact consists of words and deeds.In the past, people knew each other but today people are mainly busy with themselves. We tend to look the other way and close our eyes and ears to what’s going on around us. Nowadays even our neighbours are strangers,” she said.
Beatrix did not mention the tragic events on Queen’s Day this past April, where a motorist deliberately plowed into crowds at the celebrations in Apeldoorn, killing about a dozen people.
Last but not least at giving the annual Christmas speech was Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf. Like the British Queen, the King talked about the economic difficulties many Swedes experienced this past year.
“Many are young and many are immigrants. They are a great asset as we in our society find it difficult to fully take advantage of. I sincerely hope that we succeed in protecting these groups and their opportunities. It is hoped that all who are out of work soon to get to know the security of having a workplace to go to.”
The King shared with his people his dreams and hopes for young people.
“I and the Queen has for some time resulted in a common dream. To provide a forum for children and young people in the world – a World Child and Youth Forum – which aims to inspire and support so that the UNCRC is complied with. We hope that it might become as known as the Davos Forum, but with the light directed at children and young people’s situation.”
But perhaps the highlight of King Carl’s speech was him mentioning the upcoming weddings of his two daughters, Victoria and Madeleine. The Crown Princess will marry in June 2010, while her younger sister may marry either later in the year or early in 2011.
“To marry his heart’s choice was not always obvious when I was growing up. I am therefore very happy that my daughters, like me, may be the person they love most at his side. I would like to express my sincere and humble thanks for all the support and encouragement shown to us by the Swedish people.”
One of the reasons why many royal fans enjoy the Christmas speeches is because it is one of the rare moments the monarchs write their words, rather than have them written by someone from the government.