This is the official video transcript of Queen Elizabeth II’s 1994 Christmas Message to the Commonwealth.
The Queen’s 1994 Christmas Message to the Commonwealth.
HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN
SPEAKS TO THE COMMONWEALTH
[The Royal Coat of Arms. Caption “Her Majesty the Queen”. Caption “From Sandringham”]
[Archive VT of the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day. Caption “6th June 1994”. D-Day veterans march past Her Majesty to the tune of Colonel Bogey.]
[Cut to Her Majesty speaking to camera]
THE QUEEN: I shall never forget the events in Normandy last June, when the representatives of the war-time allies commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the D-Day landings. We who were there, and millions of others through Television and radio, paid fitting tribute to the courage of those who took part in that epic campaign.
As Prince Philip and I stood watching the British veterans march past on the beach at Aramanches, my own memories of 1944 were stirred – of how it was to wait anxiously for news of friends and relations engaged in that massive and hazardous operation, of the subsequent ebb and flow of the battles in France and then in Germany itself, and of the gradual realisation that the war really was, at last, coming to an end.
Since those D-Day commemorations, Prince Philip and I have been to Russia. [Mix to archive VT of the Queen honouring Russian war dead] While we were in St. Petersburg, we had the opportunity to honour the millions of patriotic Russians who died fighting the common enemy.
[Her Majesty and President Yeltsin lay wreaths, then talk to some Russian veterans]
THE QUEEN [voice-over]: To see those British and Russian veterans standing together, in memory of the sacrifices of their comrades-in- arms, was a moving experience.
[Voices of her Majesty talking to the veterans]
THE QUEEN: You were in the ..
VETERAN: I was also the 81 Squadron Leader.
THE QUEEN: The 81 Squadron, was it?
VETERAN: I was 21 then.
THE QUEEN: Were you? Long time ago, though, now, isn’t it? Had you been back since or not?
VETERAN: Not in the last year.
THE QUEEN: No, so they came last year?
VETERAN: The Russian Government – veterans asked us back.
THE QUEEN: Oh, really? [moves on to next veteran]
THE QUEEN’S GUIDE: Mr. Dixon, who is from the North Russia Club.
THE QUEEN: [shakes hands with Mr. Dixon] The North Russia Club? You have a club, do you?
MR. DIXON: Yes, we do.
THE QUEEN: The convoys?
MR. DIXON: We were all involved in the convoys, yes.
THE QUEEN: [glancing at Mr. Dixon’s medals] You have seen a lot of service too, haven’t you?
MR. DIXON: [laughs]
[Mix to her Majesty talking to camera]
THE QUEEN: I never thought it would be possible in my lifetime to join with the Patriarch of Moscow and his congregation in a service in that wonderful cathedral in the heart of the Moscow Kremlin.
[Mix to her Majesty meeting the Patriarch of Moscow]
THE PATRIARCH: Your Majesty.
THE QUEEN: Good morning.
THE PATRIARCH: Welcome!
THE QUEEN: Well, it is very nice to be here.
THE PATRIARCH: Very nice to see you.
[Mix to the service taking place inside the cathedral]
THE QUEEN [voice-over]: This Christmas, as we pray for peace at home and abroad, not least in Russia itself, we can also give thanks that such cathedrals and churches will be full, and the thraig bells that greeted us will be ringing out to celebrate our saviour’s birth.
[Mix back to her Majesty talking to camera]
THE QUEEN: We are frequently reminded, of course, that violence and hatred are all too much in evidence. We can take some comfort however from the fact that more people throughout the world, year by year, have real hope of their children growing up in peace and free from fear.
Last Christmas we were witnessing the signs of a new dawn after the long night of bitterness, and this year those signs have become steadily stronger. If that new dawn is to be a real and not a false one, courage, patience and faith will be sorely needed – those same qualities which kept the flame of hope alive in the wartorn countries of Europe and the far East in the dark days of the last war.
Christ taught us to love our enemies, and to do good to them that hate us. It is a hard lesson to learn, but this year we have seen shining examples of that generosity of spirit, which alone can banish division and prejudice.
In Northern Ireland, peace is gradually taking root; a fully democratic South Africa has been welcomed back into the Commonwealth, and in the middle East long-standing enmities are healing.
What is it that makes people turn from violence and try to bring peace to their community? Most of all, I believe, it is their determination to bring reality to their hopes of a better world for their children.
[Mix to Russian children partying with her Majesty]
THE QUEEN [voice-over]: Just to see the happy faces of the children and young people of Russia, here at a tea-party in Britannia, ..
[Mix to South African children of all races playing together]
THE QUEEN [voice-over]: .. of South Africa, where so much has changed, with such extraordinary speed in the last year, ..
[Mix to a small child befriending a camouflaged British soldier on a street corner]
THE QUEEN [voice-over]: .. of Northern Ireland, where there is a real hope of a permanent end to the bitterness of recent years.
[Mix back to her Majesty talking to camera]
THE QUEEN: This should be enough to convince even the most hard-hearted that peace is worth striving for.
Next year, we shall commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The celebrations will no doubt be spectacular, and I hope we all enjoy them, but we can also each in our own way ensure that they leave a lasting mark in history.
If we resolve to be considerate and to help our neighbours, to make friends with people of different races and religions, and, as our Lord said, to look to our own faults before we criticize others, we will be keeping faith with those who landed in Normandy and fought so doggedly for their belief in freedom, peace and human decency.
The poet Siegfried Sassoon, amidst all the horrors of war, still found himself able to write these words:
“Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted, and beauty came like the setting of the sun”.
If he could see the beauty from the trenches of Flanders, surely we can look for it in our own lives this Christmas and in the coming year.
Happy Christmas, and may God bless you.
[Mix to a montage of the Queen’s year, overlaid with the national anthem]