Queen Elizabeth talks of ordinary heroes, equality in inspiring New Year’s speeches (VIDEOS)

They are short but poignant—and offer wonderful motivation for the year ahead!

The Queen's Christmas message for 2016. CNN | Youtube

Queen Elizabeth has been suffering from a bad cold for the last few weeks. In fact, the normally stoic great-grandmother was so ill she was forced to miss out on her annual Christmas service at the 16th century church on her country estate in Sandringham. However the Queen, who is also the head of the Church of England, made sure she recorded her regular Christmas address, televised every Christmas Day at 3 p.m. sharp, as well as record a congratulatory message shared on the royal family’s Facebook and Twitter accounts on New Year’s Day, to the people of Canada who this year are celebrating their 150th anniversary of Confederation.

You might ask yourself why these speeches were so important, but on the rare occasion when the Queen directly addresses the public, it is with such pearls of 90-year wisdom that it would be foolish not to listen. So millions of Brits tune in every Christmas to see what she has to say (often organizing their Christmas meals around the event), and what she does say stems from a deep love of God and her country. Although her message is aimed at her fellow countrymen it is still applicable worldwide, and offers wonderful motivation for the year ahead.

Do small things with great love

This year, Elizabeth’s Christmas message focused on the theme of “inspiration.” You might think why inspiration when there has been so much upheaval and tragedy this year. But Her Majesty showed us that through inspiration we can all do good in the world, and that in itself is a form of overcoming the tragedy we’ve become so used to seeing. Although she spoke of the successful Rio Olympians who have inspired millions, she also said: “I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organizers and good neighbors” explaining that “selfless devotion and generosity of spirit is an inspiration to us all.” She also quoted Saint Teresa: “Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love.” And love can really help us overcome the difficulties we all face in our lives, as Elizabeth says: “the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.”

If you go to the five minute mark you will hear the Queen talk of the inspirational role of Jesus in her life that might just ring true for you, too. And if we all take a minute to be inspired by our heroes, ordinary people and Jesus—as well to be inspiring ourselves—there is a lot of good to be done in the world.

Set the example of equality, liberty & inclusion

Queen Elizabeth’s message to Canada, which is still part of the British Commonwealth, was one of congratulations and admiration explaining that they have “earned a reputation as a welcoming, respectful and compassionate country.” But the Queen goes one step further and makes the effort to address her audience in their native language. Speaking in perfect French (with only a slight accent) she showed the importance of making an effort when we communicate with others, and it really helps to get the message across! She said: “It’s fifty years ago now, on the occasion of your 100th anniversary, I asked Canadians to continue to set an example by incarnating the values of equality, liberty and inclusion … over this following year you have the opportunity to remind the world of the importance of preserving these values and to pass them on to future generations.”

Another thoughtful touch that maybe the eagle-eyed will spot is that although most likely filmed at the same time as her Christmas message, the Queen is seen wearing a different brooch. A beautiful diamond maple leaf, lent to Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, during her tour of Canada, that echoes Canada’s emblem. The piece is a thoughtful nod to the Canadians, and it is this attention to detail that the Queen is famed for—it’s a little like a good friend who buys in your favorite tea for when you might drop by.

Bonus: If you do take the time to watch the speeches you will get to see a pretty sumptuous Christmas tree, some stunning floral arrangements, and a photo of a very handsome young Prince Philip!

Cerith Gardiner
Cerith Gardiner

Cerith Gardiner was born in London and has been living in Paris for 14 years. She spends her time working as an English consultant, acting as taxi driver to her four children, and wondering if she’ll ever be as stylish as the French.

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