King Charles greets the late Queen and public workers in a speech

LONDON (AP) — King Charles III evoked memories of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Sunday as he delivered his first Christmas message as monarch in a speech that also paid tribute to the “selfless dedication” of service workers. British public, many of whom are in a fight with the government over pay.

Charles, 74, also identified in the prerecorded message with people struggling to make ends meet “at a time of great anxiety and hardship.” Like other parts of the world, the UK is battling high inflation which has led to a cost of living crisis for many households.

The king’s first remarks, however, recalled his mother, who died in September at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne.

“Christmas is a particularly moving time for all of us who have lost loved ones,” said Charles. “We miss them at every family turn of the season and remember them at every cherished tradition.”

Carlos immediately ascended to the throne after the queen’s death. His coronation ceremony is scheduled for May.

For his televised Christmas message, he wore a dark blue suit. Unlike Elizabeth, who often sat at a desk to deliver the annual address, Charles stood by a Christmas tree in St George’s Chapel, a church in the grounds of Windsor Castle where his mother and father were buried. father, Prince Philip.

Charles said he shared with his mother “a belief in the extraordinary capacity of each person to touch, with kindness and compassion, the lives of others and to shine a light on the world around them.”

“The essence of our community and the very foundation of our society” can be seen in “health and social care professionals and teachers and, indeed, in all those who work in public service whose skill and commitment are in the heart of our communities”, said the king. .

Strikes this month by nurses, ambulance staff, teachers, postal workers and train drivers have put pressure on the government of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Opinion polls show a high level of support for workers, especially nurses. Unions are seeking wage increases in line with inflation, which stood at 10.7% in November.

The skyrocketing food and energy prices in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have created financial stress for many individuals and families.

Speaking over video footage from food banks and other charities, Charles expressed sympathy for “those at home who are finding ways to pay their bills and keep their families fed and warm.”

Charles also reached out to people of other faiths in the UK and across the British Commonwealth, saying that the meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ crosses “the boundaries of faith and belief”.

Charles believes that the monarchy can help unite his country’s increasingly diverse ethnic groups and creeds. It is part of his effort to show that the institution still has relevance.

The six-minute message concluded with a call to pay attention to “the everlasting light” which Charles said was a key aspect of Elizabeth’s faith in God and people.

“So regardless of what faith you may or may not have, it is in this life-giving light and with the true humility that resides in our service to others that I believe we can find hope for the future,” he said.

The king made no reference to the recent outcry over this month’s Netflix documentary series about the bitter separation from the royal family that accompanied the decision by his son Prince Harry and daughter-in-law Meghan to step away from royal duties and cross the border. Atlantic. Ocean.

Video footage accompanying the Christmas message showed members of the royal family working at official events. Harry and Meghan did not appear, and neither did Prince Andrew, who had his honorary military titles stripped and his royalties removed over his friendship with notorious American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew, however, joined Charles and other royals on a Christmas morning walk to a church located near the family’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England.

The king and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, brought family members to a service at St. Mary Magdalene Church. They included Prince William, Charles’ eldest son and heir to the throne, and William’s wife Kate, and the couple’s three children, Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis. , of 4.

Joining them on the walk were Charles and Andrew’s younger brother, Prince Edward, and his wife, Sofia.

After the family entered the church, congregants sang “God Save the King” followed by the Christmas hymn “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

Sandringham has been the private country home of four generations of British monarchs for more than 160 years, but this was the royal family’s first Christmas there since 2019, according to the British Press Association news agency.

Elizabeth spent her last two Christmases at Windsor Castle due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Crowds lined the streets near Sandringham to greet the royal family on Sunday as they returned to the Christmas tradition.

“He will be in King Carlos’s thoughts about his mother, about his legacy. They’ll be thinking about it over Christmas,” said John Loughrey, 67, who lives in south London and camped out overnight to be first in line. “It’s going to be a sad and happy time for them. to be.”

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