The Queen’s Christmas broadcast painted a picture

Yesterday, Queen Elizabeth delivered her annual Christmas Day broadcast. This year it was delivered from Windsor, as that’s where QEII and Prince Philip are spending their COVID-compliant holiday. You can watch the full broadcast below.

Here are my main takeaways:

Peep the photos (or lack thereof) on the desk.

In past years, Queen Elizabeth has put various photos of family members on her desk. This has both personal and political meaning, indicating who is in with the head of the family and the Queen’s goals for the future. Last year, this was the framed photograph setup:

It tells you a pretty clear picture. In this broadcast, the Queen is all about the line of succession. She has a photo of her father, King George VI, and then photos of the heir apparent (Charles) and his wife; the next in the line of succession (Will), pictured with his family, including the next in the line of succession (George); and, finally, Prince Philip, who has been the Queen’s rock for 70 odd years.

The 2019 desk also shows us who isn’t currently in favour (Harry and Meghan). The lack of photo, combined with not naming Archie during the broadcast, was seen as a major snub and a sign that the Sussexes were not as useful to the Queen as they had been in 2018. So, with that in mind, it was an interesting choice for the Queen to only have a framed photo of her husband, Prince Philip, during the 2020 broadcast.

In my opinion, this signals a couple of things. First, it’s probably an indication of a clean slate, a clearing of the decks, after the shitshow of Harry and Meghan crashing out of the royal family and moving to California. It’s the equivalent of a “new year, new me” resolution. It’s the royal equivalent of clearing out the pantry on January 1 and saying “no more potato chips”. We’ll see how long it lasts, but for now, the Queen has Marie Kondo’d her family drama from her desk.

Second, having only a framed photo of Philip is likely a nod to the national mood during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Everyone has been affected, including the Queen. For the first time in decades (ever?), she had to spend Christmas alone, without her children or grandchildren. Having only a photo of Philip on the desk is telling the public “Look, I know this is hard and that you’re separated from your loved ones. So am I. But we will get through this together.” Times are hard, but we will get through it. The British war spirit, etc.

The Queen Mother’s Brooch

The Queen wore the Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch, which once belonged to her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (repetitive name is repetitive). I’m taking this to mean that the Queen is trying to summon her mother’s wartime spirit. The Queen Mother helped lead the national mood effort during the Second World War. Part of Buckingham Palace was even bombed, and QETQM’s response was (paraphrasing): I’m sort of happy it happened, because it means that when we go out to meet people to help with the effort, I can look them in the eye and know what they’re talking about now. The Queen is saying: Yes, I’ve had an awful year. We’re always going to be different, but I get how hard it’s been, and I’m with you.

The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior metaphor was moving

The Queen spent the majority of her speech highlighting the massive sacrifices that regular members of the public have made to fight COVID-19 this year. That includes health workers, frontline workers, people raising money for or donating to charities (Sir Captain Tom!), and the like. She then says that the Tomb of the Unknown Warrier, who is buried in Westminster Abbey, was “not exceptional. That’s the point. He represents millions like him who, throughout our history, have put the lives of others above their own, and will be doing so today.” Beautiful speech writing, and very well done.

That’s it for now. Thank you for reading. You can buy me a coffee or subscribe to my email newsletter below.

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2 thoughts on “The Queen’s Christmas broadcast painted a picture

  1. Hi, Merry Christmas! I liked your analysis about the photos. I also kind of got the feeling from some news articles that this is a way of showing publicly that she’s not playing favourites, which is a way to answer the noise made last year by M & H supporters about the snub. But I like the idea of the clean slate. It also ocurred to me that Prince Phillip will be 100 next year so maybe his photo on the desk was kind of alluding to that, but that could also be alluded next year so I don’t know. About the Queen Mother, I have a book named The Windsors by Kitty Kelly, that explains that QEII gave her mother that long title and several properties at the death of George VI as a way of compensate her for being a widow in such an unexpected way that also was supposed to have the consequence the Queen Mother would no longer be in the same position of power as she once was, so the whole title “The Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother”, was a way to make people call her Queen twice. The whole thing was a psychological way of help her and let her know she still mattered and still was influent in court life. Winston Churchill also helped with the properties thing (not sure if it was his idea), because he was the one who spoke with the Queen Mother and offered Clarence House, the Mey Castle, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carolina, and happy holidays! Thanks for another great comment. I think you’re right on the money about giving the Queen Mother the psychological wins of the title and Clarence House/the Castle of Mey.

      I really like the idea of the clean slate as well, it’s basically the only move Her Majesty had after the claims of favouritism last year. I also liked the addition of Philip, probably as a nod to his 100th birthday coming up!


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