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Queen Elizabeth First Televised Broadcast 1957

Queen Elizabeth First Televised Broadcast: 1957 Christmas Speech

by Ricardo Walter

Queen Elizabeth given her 68th Christmas speech as the British monarch on 1957 December 25. It will be the most recent in a long line of holiday programs that started on 1957 December 25, in its current format.

The 1957 Christmas Day speech acknowledged that the monarch’s role had changed from that of a distant ruler to that of an approachable figurehead. It also gave the monarch a sense of humanity.

The King’s Christmas Message, a royal custom that dates back to 1932, gave the monarch a chance to consider the year’s main happenings and the royal family’s individual milestones.

Queen Elizabeth accepted the BBC’s invitation to read her words live on television from her quarters at Sandringham, her Norfolk estate, that year. Prior to 1957, it was aired via radio to Commonwealth nations.

On December 25, 1957, Queen Elizabeth II makes her Christmas speech at Buckingham Palace.
Pool/Anwar Hussein Collection Collection/WireImage/Getty Images
On December 25, 1957, Queen Elizabeth II makes her Christmas speech at Buckingham Palace.
Pool/Anwar Hussein Collection Collection/WireImage/Getty Images| Queen’s First Televised Broadcast


On the most revered of family holidays, millions of people joined the Queen at her residence for the first time. The way the Christmas message has changed is a lot like how the royal family has struggled to become a modern monarchy by balancing their duties as well-known figures with the public’s intense interest in their private lives and relationships.

Would they gradually open up to the public, or would they remain distant and distant forever? With her opening speech, Queen Elizabeth took a convincing step toward openness. As she read from the Long Library in Sandringham at 3 p.m., she expressed her sincere hope that this new medium would help to make her Christmas Speech more intimate and straightforward.

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“I can’t help that I might seem a little far away to many of you,” the Queen said. “A successor to the historical kings and queens; a person whose image you may have seen in the media or on the big screen, but who has little to do with your daily affairs. However, I invite you to spend a few minutes in the tranquility of my own home right now.

1957 Queen's First Televised Broadcast
1957 Christmas Speech| GETTY IMAGES

Queen, who had done her first Christmas Speech

The Queen, who had done her first Christmas Speech just five years earlier, was a pro, despite it being a first for a British monarch to deliver the message in front of the camera.

Richard Webber, who oversaw production, told The Telegraph, “We had a run-through on the day and then moved straight into the live show.” The Queen read the message perfectly and was quite skilled with the teleprompter.

She also showed herself to be meticulous. The Queen opened a book during the historic occasion and read a few passages from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Webber remembered, “The lines were printed on a sheet of paper tucked inside the book.” The Queen soon realized that it wasn’t the proper book during the run-through and inquired as to whether the library had a copy. Undoubtedly, there was.

The Queen’s live TV broadcasts were popular, although they were short-lived. The message was pre-recorded and broadcast from Buckingham Palace in 1960.

The Queen in the Regency Room of Buckingham Palace after recording her 2016 Christmas message.
GETTY IMAGES
The Queen in the Regency Room of Buckingham Palace after recording her 2016 Christmas message.
GETTY IMAGES

Everyone thought this was a better way to do things, so a video reel of the message was sent to all Commonwealth countries well before Christmas.

Since the introduction of the first color broadcast in 1967, this tradition has continued each year. There is only one exception, which occurred in 1969, when the Queen opted to write a Christmas Speech rather than broadcast one.

She seemed to think that the family had gotten enough attention after Charles became Prince of Wales in that same year. Since the Christmas Speech’s peak in 1980, the year before Charles and Diana’s wedding, when it attracted 28 million viewers in the UK, the audience has been steadily declining.

The Crown has, however, continued to innovate despite this. The speech was originally made downloadable as a podcast in 2006, when approximately 7.6 million Brits tuned in, and Sky News produced the show in 3D in 2012.

The royal family’s Facebook and Youtube pages now allow visitors from across the world to watch the address.

Despite popular desire, the queen’s children were not shown in the program and would not appear for a number of years because Elizabeth thought it would be an excessive intrusion into their private lives.


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