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Christmas Speech King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands/Queen Elizabeth of the UK

Peter King

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Christmas connects us... but everyone has his or her own feelings. How do you experience this Christmas?

Maybe you're looking back on a beautiful year and enjoying the atmosphere and the people around you.

Perhaps these are difficult days because you feel lonely. Or because you're missing someone terribly who you would have loved to have with you. My wife and I know what you are going through.

Christmas leaves few people untouched.

This celebration appeals to our faith.

In religious terms, but also:

the faith in ourselves;

in each other;

in a happy and peaceful future.

It is not always easy to hold on to that faith. Those who follow the news sometimes lose heart. What really comes from all the beautiful ideals and promises? Reports about intimidation and extremism - far away but also near by - can make us angry. Against the fierce and brutal forces in the world, ordinary people stand powerless... that's how it often feels.

But is it not possible that we underestimate our own role?

Coincidentally, it is seventy years ago that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations. You may think: "What do we do with such a declaration? It sounds so far away". But the driving force behind it - Eleanor Roosevelt - thought very differently about it. She said:

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world."

She thus established a direct link between the street in which we live and the big world.

Freedom, equality and fair opportunities for everyone also depend on how we interact with each other on a daily basis. A life without fear and indifference is not only determined on distant conference tables, however indispensable they may be. It is fortunate that we also take part.

We are less powerless than we think.

The vast majority of Dutch people feel at home in an environment where contradictions are not at the forefront and conflicts are resolved as well as possible together.

Comparison with other countries is often a source of comfort, if not pride. The willingness to take each other into account and cooperate has brought us far. This was the basis of our country, 450 years ago, when a small group of Dutch regions joined forces against the tribulation and successfully went its own way. Something like that has never been seen before.

Active citizens who want to work together despite all the differences. That is the red thread that runs through our history, to this day. That is what makes us strong.

Yes, there are problems and sometimes great tensions. But the Netherlands is in 2018 one of the best places in the world to stay, work and live.

That is also due to you, however self-evident and 'normal' you may find your contribution.

The Dutch standard is that we look out for each other and the shared interest. That we work together and give and take. We should never let this standard fade! It is invaluable and leads to fantastic new initiatives again and again.

During my visits I saw that throughout the Netherlands, also in the past year. In many places citizens take control to tackle and organize things together. That could be refurbishing and running a city hall. Or switching to sustainable energy with your neighbors. Or turning a neglected courtyard into a garden that all residents can enjoy.

It is precisely in challenging circumstances that people seek each other out. In October I ws a guest in the Hogeland of Groningen where five towns have joined forces, from Kloosterburen to Kleine Huisjes. The residents have given their town a heart again and also take care of older and vulnerable fellow residents. Everyone counts.

"Small-scale", some might think. But I think: "huge!"

A better Netherlands starts in Kleine Huisjes! [translates to 'Small Homes' in English]

We often underestimate the positive influence that we can have as a person with our modest possibilities. The world is won close to home.

We can not do everything together. But a lot.

And to people in the least easy position, we often have the most to thank.

With Christmas, simplicity triumphs. Maria wrapped her child in cloths and put him in a manger. Even a corner in an inn was not available. A stable sufficed.

Christmas reminds us that we too easily overlook all the most important sources of happiness.

A bright future is possible. Provided we hold on to the faith in ourselves and in each other.

I wish you all - wherever you are and whatever your personal circumstances are - a blessed Christmas.
 

Peter King

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The speech of Queen Elizabeth the second

For many, the service of 'Nine Lessons and Carols' from King's College Cambridge is when Christmas begins. Listened to by millions of people around the world it starts with a chorister singing the first verse of once in royal David City. The priest who introduced this service to King's College Chapel exactly 100 years ago was Eric Milner White. He had served as a military chaplain in the First World War. Just six weeks after the Armistice he wanted a new kind of service which, with its message of peace and goodwill spoke to the needs of the times.

2018 has been a year of centenaries. The Royal Air Force celebrated its hundredth anniversary with a memorable fly-past demonstrating a thrilling unity of purpose and execution.We owe them and all our armed services our deepest gratitude.

My father served in the Royal Navy during the First World War he was a midshipman in HMS Collingwood at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. The British fleet lost 14 ships and 6,000 men in that engagement. My father wrote in a letter how and why we were not hit beats me.

Like others he lost friends in the war. At Christmas we become keenly aware of loved ones who have died whatever the circumstances. But of course we would not grieve if we did not love. Closer to home, it has been a busy year for my family.

With two weddings and two babies and another child expected soon it helps to keep a grandmother well occupied. We have had other celebrations too, including the 70th birthday of the Prince of Wales.

Some cultures believe a long life brings wisdom. I'd like to think so. Perhaps, part of that wisdom is to recognize some of life's baffling paradoxes such as the way human beings have a huge propensity for good, and yet a capacity for evil.

Even the power of faith which frequently inspires great generosity and self-sacrifice can fall victim to tribalism. But through the many changes I have seen over the years: faith, family, and friendship have been not only a constant for me, but a source of personal comfort and reassurance.

In April the Commonwealth Heads of Government met in London. My father welcomed just age countries to the first such meetings in 1948. Now, the Commonwealth includes 53 countries with 2.4 billion people, a third of the world's population. Its strength lies in the bonds of affection it promotes and a common desire to live in a better, more peaceful world.

Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding. Indeed the Commonwealth Games held this year on Australia's Gold Coast are known universally as the friendly games because of their emphasis on good will and mutual respect.

The Christmas story retains its appeal since it doesn't provide theoretical explanations for the puzzles of life. Instead, it's about the birth of a child, and the hope that birth 2,000 years ago, brought to the world.

Only a few people acknowledged Jesus when he was born; now billions follow him. I believe his message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone. It's needed as much as ever.

A very happy Christmasto you all.
 

Peter King

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Messages of hope, and that we are connected more than that we are divided. The current hatred, the yellow jackets, all those people should know that we live in the lap of luxury when it comes down to it. Can things get better, sure the hell the can but lets try to change what can go better but respect that which in our country is already wonderful.
 

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And a Merry Xmas to you mate.
 

Chagos

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Messages of hope, and that we are connected more than that we are divided. The current hatred, the yellow jackets, all those people should know that we live in the lap of luxury when it comes down to it. Can things get better, sure the hell the can but lets try to change what can go better but respect that which in our country is already wonderful.
Vrolijk kerstfeest en een gelukkig nieuw jaar
 

Pedestrian

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Well the obviously great sentiments are just that...only sentiments. They are as individual as people are.

The problem lies in those of power resources and influence will say they feel the same about xmas and a man called Jesus

and go to church on Sun., tithe a bit to hear a man review those sentiments but then go out on Monday

and being anything but righteous...screw their neighbor.
 

Peter King

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Well the obviously great sentiments are just that...only sentiments. They are as individual as people are.

The problem lies in those of power resources and influence will say they feel the same about xmas and a man called Jesus

and go to church on Sun., tithe a bit to hear a man review those sentiments but then go out on Monday

and being anything but righteous...screw their neighbor.

Not really, our king is a bit more than thus an individual. They are one the symbols and people that unite our country, far from politics (mostly, except of course for people like Geert Wilders) and without a nefarious agenda or a hidden agenda. It comes pure from his heart.

And even though our King is a really deeply religious person, as is his wife, the speech is for all Dutch, and it may talk about some religious stuff but mostly it is just about humanity and for all people, even the non-religious people (which is the majority of the Dutch people).

And it is a message to do the right thing and not screw their neighbors.

It reminds me of the speech Bill Murray made at the end of Scrooged


And he is not wrong and true leaders inspire their citizens to do better and be there for all citizens.
 
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