On this day in 1957, Queen Elizabeth II made the first televised royal Christmas broadcast from a study in the Long Library at Sandringham House, Norfolk.
For the first time cameras were present in her own home on Christmas Day, as the Queen gave her speech from the same desk used by her father, King George VI, and his father King George V, for their broadcasts, adorned with pictures of her children Prince Charles and Princess Anne.
The idea to make the change from radio broadcast to a televised speech came from the BBC’s head of outside broadcasting, Peter Dimmock, who was in charge of the 1957 production. The Queen was said to be keen to embrace the new technology and agreed immediately.
After a rehearsal run-through on Christmas Day itself, the Queen went straight into the broadcast, using a teleprompter and occasionally glancing at a set of notes she kept on her desk. Dimmock would later call her delivery of the speech “extremely accomplished”.
The Queen made reference to the innovation, saying: “I very much hope this new medium will make my message more personal and direct. It’s inevitable that I should seem a rather remote figure to many of you … but now, at least for a few minutes, I welcome you to the peace of my own home.”
On the 25th anniversary of the first Christmas broadcast by a monarch – made by George V in 1932 – Her Majesty continued with the theme of embracing change, while continuing to adhere to the best aspects of older ways and values.