The late Queen Elizabeth II warned against “unthinking people” seeking to throw away “ageless ideals” in an age of rapid change in her first-ever televised Christmas message in 1957.
A young woman then only a few years into what would prove to be the longest reign in British history, the Queen’s first televised Christmas message, which has attracted many curious eyes now her long life has drawn to a close, has a prophetic ring to it from the vantage point of 2022.
“It is inevitable that I should seem a rather remote figure to many of you. A successor to the Kings and Queens of history; someone whose face may be familiar in newspapers and films but who never really touches your personal lives. But now at least for a few minutes I welcome you to the peace of my own home,” began the monarch, who far from feeling remote to her people would come to be seen as a source of comfort and constancy to generations of Britons.
“That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us. Because of these changes I am not surprised that many people feel lost and unable to decide what to hold on to and what to discard. How to take advantage of the new life without losing the best of the old,” the Queen continued.
“But it is not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery,” she warned, adding that such people “would have religion thrown aside, morality in personal and public life made meaningless, honesty counted as foolishness and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint.”
Her warning was likely at least somewhat informed by the administration of the then-prime minister, Harold Macmillan, but also speaks to her strong Christian faith, which remained a steady throughline in all her Christmas broadcasts from the 1950s to the 2020s.
It will have a bittersweet ring for many British conservatives, however, as Christianity in Britain is in freefall as the established Church of England embraces Black Lives Matter, anti-“whiteness”, and gender ideology, and morality in public life has been reduced to a punchline.