King Charles delivered a moving message of grief and loss in his first Christmas address since taking the throne following his mother Queen Elizabeth’s death in September.
“Christmas is a particularly poignant time for all of us who have lost loved ones,” the 74-year-old monarch said in comments pre-recorded Dec. 13 at Windsor Castle, where Elizabeth is buried.
“We feel their absence of every familiar turn of the season, and remember them in each cherished tradition.”
“In the much-loved carol, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem,’ we sing of how, ‘In the dark street shineth the everlasting light,’” the king said. “My mother’s belief in the power of that light was an essential part of her faith in God, but also her faith in people — and it is one which I share with whole my heart.”
Charles went on to commend “health and social care professionals,” teachers and “all those in public service.”
“At this time of great anxiety and hardship — be it for those around the world facing conflict, famine or natural disaster or for those at home, finding ways to pay their bills to keep their families fed and warm — we see it in the humanity of people throughout our nations and the Commonwealth who so readily respond to the plight of others,” he said.
“Whatever faith you have, or whether you have none, it is in this life-giving light and with the true humility that lies in our service to others that I believe we can fight for the future.”
On Sunday, members of the royal family gathered for the family’s traditional Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham.
Following the 45-minute service, Charles and family members greeted crowds outside the church, according to the BBC.
Among those reportedly attending was Prince Andrew — the disgraced, Jeffrey Epstein-affiliated brother of the king who has been rarely seen in public since stepping down from his official royal duties in 2019.
Queen Elizabeth was the longest-reigning British monarch when she died Sept. 8 at age 96.