The King has praised the ‘selfless army’ of volunteers serving communities across the country, describing them as the ‘essential backbone of our society’, in his Christmas broadcast.

Hours after he was joined by almost all of his family for the traditional Royal Christmas service at Sandringham, Charles paid tribute to Birtons who dedicate their lives to service.

Charles said the presence of community stalwarts among his coronation guests emphasised the meaning of the ceremony – ‘a call to us all to serve one another’ – and he concluded by thanking those who were ‘caring for our common home’.

Video clips accompanying the speech also showed all senior working royals during the ten minute address: his wife the Queen, naturally, as well as the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal.

Earlier, hundreds of royal fans turned out to see the King at Sandringham earlier where he and Camilla were joined by the Prince and Princess of Wales along with their children Louis, George and Charlotte, the Tindalls and their children, Princess Anne, Princess Edward and Sophie.

Prince Andrew was joined for the service by Sarah Ferguson for the first time in more than thirty years.

But the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Harry and Meghan are again spending their fourth Christmas in California – after another tumultuos year failed to heal their rift with Charles. King Charles has only met his youngest granddaughter, Princess Lilibet, once.

Harry and Meghan were reported to have been ‘open’ to being invited to Sandringham this year. But any suggestion this would happen was quickly scotched by royal sources.

King Charles delivered his speech to the nation from Buckingham Palace at 3pm on Christmas Day

King Charles addressed issues including climate change and global conflicts as he appealed for everyone to protect one another

King Charles addressed issues including climate change and global conflicts as he appealed for everyone to protect one another

The King has used his second Christmas speech to highlight his green message just weeks after giving the headline speech at the COP28 climate change conference.

Proving he is finding ways to adapt a lifetime of environmental campaigning to his new role as monarch, Charles stressed the need to ‘care for the Earth for the sake of our children’s children’.

Standing by a ‘living Christmas tree’, which will later be replanted, covered with environmentally-friendly decorations, he said in the broadcast address: ‘To care for this creation is a responsibility owned by people of all faiths and of none. We care for the Earth for the sake of our children’s children.

‘During my lifetime I have been so pleased to see a growing awareness of how we must protect the Earth and our natural world as the one home which we all share.

‘I find great inspiration now from the way so many people recognise this – as does the Christmas story, which tells us that angels brought the message of hope first to shepherds.

‘These were people who lived simply amongst others of God’s creatures. Those close to nature were privileged that night.’

The broadcast, made this year by ITV, also featured footage from environment events during his state visit to Kenya in November.

The King and Queen earlier attended the traditional Christmas Day service in Sandringham with other members of the royal family

The King and Queen earlier attended the traditional Christmas Day service in Sandringham with other members of the royal family

King Charles was pictured alongside his grandchildren in Sandringham on Christmas Day

King Charles was pictured alongside his grandchildren in Sandringham on Christmas Day

Charles and Camilla exchange words as they left St Mary Magdalene Church in Norfolk

Charles and Camilla exchange words as they left St Mary Magdalene Church in Norfolk

This speech was also woven with references to his coronation in May, from the location it was filmed in – the Centre Room at Buckingham Palace, overlooking the balcony from which he and Queen Camilla greeted to the crowds in The Mall – to the National Anthem, performed by British Army Musicians from the Households Division of the Symphonic Brass.

They not only performed at the coronation but also the King’s first official Birthday Parade in June and his Coronation Concert at Windsor.

Several clips of footage from the Coronation weekend’s events featured heavily showing himself and his wife and the Prince and Princess of Wales and their three children.

The King said he had been moved to see how events such as the coronation, highlighted the way in which communities up and down the country care for each other, particularly through volunteering.

He said this was particularly noteworthy at Christmas, a time of togetherness across the generations, whether people are of a religious persuasion or not, saying: ‘For some, faith will be uppermost in their hearts.

‘For others, it will be the joy of fellowship and the giving of presents. It is also a time when we remember those who are no longer with us and think also of those whose work of caring for others continues, even on this special day.’

The King also highlighted the cost of living crisis as he continued: ‘Over this past year my heart has been warmed by countless examples of the imaginative ways in which people are caring for one another – going the extra mile to help those around them simply because they know it is the right thing to do: at work and at home; within and across communities.

‘My wife and I were delighted when hundreds of representatives of that selfless army of people – volunteers who serve their communities in so many ways and with such distinction – were able to join us in Westminster Abbey for the coronation earlier this year.

‘They are an essential backbone of our society. Their presence meant so much to us both and emphasised the meaning of coronation itself: above all, a call to us all to serve one another; to love and care for all.

Highlights from the royal year were screened as part of the speech, including the coronation

Highlights from the royal year were screened as part of the speech, including the coronation

The message also showed the King and Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

The message also showed the King and Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

In his speech today, Charles stresses the importance of looking after the environment

In his speech today, Charles stresses the importance of looking after the environment

‘Service also lies at the heart of the Christmas story – the birth of Jesus who came to serve the whole world, showing us by his own example how to love our neighbour as ourselves.

‘Throughout the year, my family have witnessed how people of all ages are making a difference to their communities. This is all the more important at a time of real hardship for many, when we need to build on existing ways to support others less fortunate than ourselves.’

Unsurprisingly, Charles’ thoughts also turned to conflicts abroad, notably the ongoing military struggle of the people of Ukraine and the currently fighting in Israel and Gaza where he has attempted to bring people of all faith together.

He said: ‘At a time of increasingly tragic conflict around the World, I pray that we can also do all in our power to protect each other. The words of Jesus seem more than ever relevant: ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’

‘Such values are universal, drawing together our Abrahamic family of religions, and other belief systems, across the Commonwealth and wider world. They remind us to imagine ourselves in the shoes of our neighbours, and to seek their good as we would our own.’

Like his late mother, a committed Christian and head of the Church of England, the King closed his speech on a religious note.

He said his ‘heart and my thanks’ go to all who are serving and caring for one another, ‘not least the friend we do not yet know.’

And he concluded: ‘In this way, we bring out the best in ourselves. I wish you a Christmas of ‘peace on Earth and goodwill to all’, today and always.’

The Christmas broadcast, the second of Charles’s reign, was delivered standing up in Buckingham Palace’s centre room which opens onto the famous balcony overlooking The Mall. The Queen Victoria Memorial could be seen in the background.

The 3pm broadcast marked the second Christmas message of Charles' reign

The 3pm broadcast marked the second Christmas message of Charles’ reign

The King and Queen arrived at church this morning with the Prince and Princess of Wales, their children and other members of the royal family

The King and Queen arrived at church this morning with the Prince and Princess of Wales, their children and other members of the royal family

For the second successive year the King recognised other faiths, describing how ‘great religions of the world’ celebrated festivals with a special meal, and how it was the responsibility of ‘people of all faiths and of none’ to care for the natural world.

He added: ‘For some, faith will be uppermost in their hearts.

‘For others, it will be the joy of fellowship and the giving of presents. It is also a time when we remember those who are no longer with us and think also of those whose work of caring for others continues, even on this special day.’

The King is a long-term environmental campaigner who delivered a speech at the recent Cop28 UN Climate Change summit, and the tree will be given to charity to be replanted after the broadcast.

From its branches hung natural and sustainable decorations including hand-turned wood, dried oranges, glass baubles, pine cones and paper.

The King’s speech came after the royal family marked Christmas Day by attending the traditional festive church service on the King’s Sandringham estate.

Royal fans gathered as the Prince and Princess of Wales walked hand in hand with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis from Sandringham house on their way to St Mary Magdalene Church.

They walked behind the King and Queen, who were greeted by about a thousand local residents, many of whom had waited hours on Christmas morning to catch a glimpse of the family.

For the second year in succession the disgraced Duke of York walked from Sandringham to church with the family.

Andrew’s alleged links to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein will come under further scrutiny in the new year with the release of hundreds of files from a defamation case, after a ruling by a US judge.

His ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York appeared in public at Sandringham for the first time in years, walking beside her ex-husband and smiling broadly at the press.

Andrew’s daughters were with their husbands, Princess Beatrice with Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Prince Eugenie with Jack Brooksbank.

King Charles’ Christmas message 

‘Many of the festivals of the great religions of the world are celebrated with a special meal. A chance for family and friends to come together across generations; the act of sharing food adding to conviviality and togetherness.

‘For some, faith will be uppermost in their hearts. For others, it will be the joy of fellowship and the giving of presents. It is also a time when we remember those who are no longer with us and think also of those whose work of caring for others continues, even on this special day.

‘This care and compassion we show to others is one of the themes of the Christmas story, especially when Mary and Joseph were offered shelter in their hour of need by strangers, as they waited for Jesus to be born.

‘Over this past year my heart has been warmed by countless examples of the imaginative ways in which people are caring for one another – going the extra mile to help those around them simply because they know it is the right thing to do: at work and at home; within and across communities.

‘My wife and I were delighted when hundreds of representatives of that selfless army of people – volunteers who serve their communities in so many ways and with such distinction – were able to join us in Westminster Abbey for the coronation earlier this year.

‘They are an essential backbone of our society. Their presence meant so much to us both and emphasised the meaning of coronation itself: above all, a call to us all to serve one another; to love and care for all.

‘Service also lies at the heart of the Christmas story – the birth of Jesus who came to serve the whole world, showing us by his own example how to love our neighbour as ourselves.

‘Throughout the year, my family have witnessed how people of all ages are making a difference to their communities. This is all the more important at a time of real hardship for many, when we need to build on existing ways to support others less fortunate than ourselves.

‘Because out of God’s providence we are blessed with much, and it is incumbent on us to use this wisely.

‘However, service to others is but one way of honouring the whole of creation which, after all, is a manifestation of the divine. This is a belief shared by all religions.

‘To care for this creation is a responsibility owned by people of all faiths and of none. We care for the Earth for the sake of our children’s children.

‘During my lifetime I have been so pleased to see a growing awareness of how we must protect the Earth and our natural world as the one home which we all share.

‘I find great inspiration now from the way so many people recognise this – as does the Christmas story, which tells us that angels brought the message of hope first to shepherds. These were people who lived simply amongst others of God’s creatures. Those close to nature were privileged that night.

‘And at a time of increasingly tragic conflict around the World, I pray that we can also do all in our power to protect each other. The words of Jesus seem more than ever relevant: ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’

‘Such values are universal, drawing together our Abrahamic family of religions, and other belief systems, across the Commonwealth and wider world. They remind us to imagine ourselves in the shoes of our neighbours, and to seek their good as we would our own.

‘So on this Christmas Day, my heart and my thanks go to all who are serving one another; all who are caring for our common home; and all who see and seek the good of others, not least the friend we do not yet know. In this way, we bring out the best in ourselves.

‘I wish you a Christmas of ‘peace on Earth and goodwill to all’, today and always.’

Fuente