This December will be the first time that Charles III has recorded a Christmas message to the nation and the Commonwealth. Over many years of public speaking the King has acquired the delivery of a professional actor and I have no doubt it will be a masterly performance.
The last time the Christmas message was delivered by a British king was in 1951 when George VI poignantly thanked his people for their ‘support and sympathy’ during his illness, saying: ‘I trust that you yourselves realise how greatly your prayers and good wishes have helped and are helping me in my recovery.’ Two months later he was dead and it is easy to understand, having read his words, why people were shocked by his demise. They thought he was getting better.
Before their joint workload increased in the run-up to Christmas, the Queen Consort travelled to a holistic health centre near Bangalore in India with some friends to take in a much-needed wellness stay. Three years ago, Camilla persuaded Charles to accompany her for his 71st birthday, but he has not been since. If he needs a little self-healing, he has his own spiritual retreat in his Highgrove garden – a chapel he calls his sanctuary.
It is possible that he might need a sanctuary if the Duke of Sussex’s autobiography, Spare, to be published on 10 January, is as explosive as the press release suggests it will be. It is not the first time a member of the immediate royal family has ‘written’ their memoirs: A King’s Story by the Duke of Windsor came out in 1951. In the foreword he says he approached the task with ‘some hesitation’ as the rule of reticence that binds kings and princes in a constitutional society ‘is not lightly put aside’.
In 1960 he published a further book, titled A Family Album. Both the Duke of Windsor – in the 1950s – and more recently the Duke of Sussex have taken substantial payments for their efforts, although in Harry’s case some of the proceeds will be donated to charities.
Meanwhile, the Prince and Princess of Wales continue with their sterling work and as a result are the most popular members of the royal family in the latest polls. Catherine, in particular, is stepping up her work and filmed a video message to launch the ‘Taking Action on Addiction’ campaign in her role as patron of the Forward Trust. As a champion of the benefits of outdoor adventure, the princess was also named patron of Captain Preet Chandi’s expedition across Antarctica. In January 2021 Chandi was the first woman of colour to reach the South Pole solo and unsupported. She hopes to repeat her success in early 2023, having started her trek at the beginning of November with 75 days to complete the journey.
Although it was thought that the Princess Royal would become Captain General of the Royal Marines, the role traditionally belongs to the reigning monarch. If they so desire, they can gift the military appointment to another, as the Queen did with Prince Philip and subsequently Prince Harry. For the time being at least, the King has taken on the responsibility himself.
On behalf of everyone at Majesty I should like to wish you a very happy Christmas and hope the New Year brings you all luck and happiness.