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  • [Choir singing UK national anthem "God Save the King"]

  • I am standing here in this exquisite Chapel of Saint George at Windsor Castle,

  • so close to where my beloved mother, the late Queen, is laid to rest with my dear father.

  • I am reminded of the deeply touching letters, cards, and messages, which so many of you have sent my wife and myself,

  • and I cannot thank you enough for the love and sympathy you have shown our whole family.

  • Christmas is a particularly poignant time for all of us who have lost loved ones.

  • We feel their absence at 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 thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light."

  • 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 my whole heart.

  • It is a belief in the extraordinary ability of each person to touch with goodness and compassion the lives of others and to shine a light in the world around them.

  • This is the essence of our community, and the very foundation of our society.

  • We see it in the selfless dedication of our armed forces and emergency services, who worked tirelessly to keep us all safe,

  • and who performed so magnificently as we mourn the passing of our late Queen.

  • We see it in our health and social care professionals, our teachers, and indeed all those working in public service

  • whose skill and commitment are at the heart of our communities.

  • And 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 and 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.

  • I particularly want to pay tribute to all those wonderfully kind people who so generously give food or donations,

  • or that most precious commodity of all, their time, to support those around them in greatest need.

  • Together with the many charitable organizations, which do such extraordinary work in the most difficult circumstances,

  • our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and gurdwaras have once again united in feeding the hungry,

  • providing love and support throughout the year.

  • Such heartfelt solidarity is the most inspiring expression of loving our neighbor as ourself.

  • The Prince and Princess of Wales recently visited Wales, shining a light of practical examples of this community spirit.

  • Some years ago, I was able to fulfill a lifelong wish to visit Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity.

  • There, I went down into the Chapel of the Manger,

  • and stood in silent reverence by the silver star that is inlaid on the floor and marks the place of our Lord Jesus Christ's birth.

  • It meant more to me than I can possibly express,

  • to stand on that spot where, as the Bible tells us, the light that has come into the world was born.

  • While Christmas is, of course, a Christian celebration, the power of light overcoming darkness is celebrated across the boundaries of faith and belief.

  • So, 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 find hope for the future.

  • Let us, therefore, celebrate it together and cherish it always.

  • With all my heart, I wish each of you a Christmas of peace, happiness, and everlasting light.

  • [Choir singing carol "O little town of Bethlehem"]

[Choir singing UK national anthem "God Save the King"]

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