Christmas Message, 1947
I am glad to speak to you once again on this festival which brings to all hearts the thought of peace and good will. This third Christmas Day since the war ended finds us still praying that the time may soon come when true peace will have been established throughout the world, when all men will be working together with good will to rebuild what has been destroyed, when everywhere fear will have given place to trust, hardships to wellbeing, and scarcity to plenty.
It is in a spirit of thankfulness and hope that the Queen and I send our Christmas greetings to my peoples of the Commonwealth and Empire.
Our memories would indeed be short if we had already forgotten to be thankful for our deliverance from the greatest peril that ever threatened our beloved land in all its long and glorious history.
We should be showing ourselves unworthy of what we achieved then if we doubted our will to win through now. We all know what it is to toil up a steep hill only to find that what we had thought was the top is not the top after all, and that we must brace ourselves to climb still farther.
I think that many of us must have felt that sort of disappointment more than once since the day, two and a half years ago, when victory brought us at last to those heights on which our gaze had so long been fixed.
We had hoped that we would then have reached the top, but we found that the way still lay upwards, and the summit towards which we strive is still beyond. But our faith is unshaken that God will give us strength to reach it.
We cannot escape the fact that six years of terror and destruction must leave behind them a devastation, material and spiritual, which cannot be repaired in a year or two.
To rebuild ruined cities is a long and toilsome task, but even more arduous is that labour of re-establishing trust and friendliness in hearts long embittered by fear and hate. Here, at home, the greatness of our contribution to victory is the measure of our present difficulties. When, with our brethren overseas, we stood alone in the defence of freedom, we did not count the cost. We threw in all we had.
We have now to create afresh the resources that we then poured out, and to deny ourselves while doing so; but no one, remembering 1940, can doubt that we shall succeed, and no one can doubt that we are all doing our level best to ensure success.
When we look across the seas we do not have to seek out reasons for thankfulness and hope; they are manifest. The unity and steadfastness of the British Commonwealth and Empire saved the liberties of the world. They years that have since passed have brought their disappointments, but there is one thing they have brought which we must prize beyond measure. They have shown that the same spirit of brotherhood still burns brightly. It did not flicker or grow dim when, victory unloosed the bonds that had held us together in a common purpose.
The friendly and sympathetic policies of the Governments of the great Dominions, the infinite kindliness shown by their peoples in countless gifts to the homes of Britain, the unforgettably moving welcome given to the Queen and me and to our daughters by the people of South Africa – these things and many others have shown us that the great British family of nations is still a family of the heart.
I am sure that I am speaking for all of you here in the Old Country when I say to my peoples overseas that we are profoundly moved by the understanding and generosity they have shown.
To the Queen and myself the past year has brought a personal happiness as great as any we have ever known. Our elder daughter has wedded with our blessing the man she loves and one whom we love, too. Our joy has been increased a thousandfold by knowing that it is so widely shared. We are greatly touched by the demonstration of the delight that it has given to our people.
We would ask them to join in our prayer that our daughter and her husband will not only have a married life of lasting love and felicity but will continue to deserve and to enjoy the love of all the British peoples.
Christmas is a family festival, and the hearts of those of us who are spending it at home go out to those who cannot do so, and especially to those still called on to serve in the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force.
Many of them are guardians of public order in foreign lands, and it falls to them to uphold their country’s good name. Some are exposed to daily stress and danger. I thank these for their patience and fortitude, and to all I send a cordial Christmas greeting.
For my many listeners who, like myself, are spending to-day at home with their families and friends I wish with all my heart that the happiness which comes to those who meet together in love may give them a merry Christmas.
May God grant that the spirit of good will which brightens those homes to-day may spread from them in ever-widening circles until in the fullness of time it changes the face of the world.