It was 1939 that firmly established the Royal Christmas Broadcast as a British tradition. Dressed in the uniform of the Admiral of the Fleet, sitting in front of two microphones on a table at Sandringham, King George VI spoke live to offer a message of reassurance to his people. It was to be a landmark speech and was to have an important effect on the listening public as they were plunged into the uncertainty of war:
“A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted.”
He went on to quote from Minnie Haskins’ poem “The Gate of the Year” (1908) :
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’