Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Traditions of Christmas - The Queen's Message

We were a family proud of our British heritage and our Commonwealth membership. My father's family were Welsh brought over to Canada through the beneficence of a group of Ladies from Upper Canada bent on emptying the orphanages of Britian; my mother was from a Monarchist-Orange Lodge family in Northern Ireland. Even our passports declared that "the bearer of this Passport is a British Subject." And in our household we celebrated that fact while being proudly Canadian.

On Christmas Day we would gather around the radio to hear the Monarch extended wishes for Christmas and the coming year secure in the fact that we were her proud subjects. In 1957, through the magic of television, it was possible to see the Queen as well as hear her. We didn't have a TV - my father believed it would be the death of family recreation - but for special occasions we headed over to Ma Ware's, an elderly neighbour whose son had give her a TV for her 75th birthday. And this was special occasion.

I can't honestly say I remember that first broadcast but looking at it today I am struck by several things:

How well stage managed it is: the desk to one side, the family photos crowding the table, the direct approach to the camera. It made the young Queen seem accessible and her slight nervousness made her vulnerable at the same time.

How well she is handling this new medium: occasional glances at her notes (this was before teleprompters), playing to the camera and a real sense of communication. And keep in mind this was a live broadcast - the kinescopes were immediately dispatched to all parts of the Commonwealth by RAF jet. And I love the palpable sense of relief at the end when she knows it is over and has gone well.

How much of what she says still applies today. Remove some of the dated references and attitudes and she could be addressing our current world situation. It is a bit frightening that 50 years later we have made much progress but haven't progressed all that much. And there is a certain poignancy in watching this young woman and knowing what the next 50 years would bring her and us.

This afternoon we will sit down and watch her 50th televised message, still members of a much diminished commonwealth, still constitutional her subjects and still seeing flashes of that young woman from 1957. And still sharing her hopes for a better world.

25 decembre - Nativita del Signore


more cowbell said...

That was really interesting, Willym -- blast from the past. Merry Christmas!

evilganome said...

Thank you for the Christmas broadcast. It is certainly different from what we are used to in the states.

BigAssBelle said...

i wish i were subject to anyone who seemed intelligent and compassion and concerned, as your young queen does in this clip.

We didn't have a TV - my father believed it would be the death of family recreation -

your father was prescient and brilliant.

is it a mark of complete old fuck-hood that i am not hopeful about the next 50 years?

Lorraine said...

That was lovely...or at least there was something about the context in which you put it that made it seem very lovely. Plus, I'm a sucker for monarchs.