For many the annual Queen's Christmas Speech is a highlight of the festive season. Each year our reigning monarch addresses the nation to touch upon varying topics relevant to the year gone by, and of course wish the British people a very Merry Christmas. But when is the Queen's Christmas speech recorded?
According to the Guardian, the speech is actually recorded a few days prior to the big day, though for the 2018 speech, the Daily Mail reports it was taped a two weeks ago. The original reason behind this creative decision not to broadcast live came back in 1959, when the Queen was heavily pregnant with Prince Andrew, Duke of York. The content of each Christmas Day speech is kept under wraps until it's broadcast — and the Royals have presumably kept up the tradition of filming a few days early to ensure there are absolutely no mistakes, something live television would most certainly run the risk of.
Queen Elizabeth II has been at the helm of every single Christmas Day speech since her coronation, except in 1969, a year which saw coverage of Prince Charles' investiture as the Prince of Wales. Despite all Christmas broadcasts now being pre-recorded, the Queen did previously agree to take part in a live broadcast in 1957. Things didn't exactly go to plan, however, as weather conditions caused U.S. police radio transmissions to interfere with the live broadcast.
The first Queen's Christmas speech to be televised in colour came in 1967, and twenty years later the BBC royal correspondent, Michael Cole, resigned from his position after leaking snippets of the her Majesty's speech at a royal reporters lunch. As previously reported, the content of each annual speech is kept secret until it's televised debut. However, in addition to Cole's mishap, The Sun newspaper also broke the embargo back in 1992 when the tabloid published the Queen's message two days before Christmas — which ultimately led to the paper being sued by the Queen herself for breach of copyright.
According to the Guardian, viewing figures have gradually slipped year upon year, however, years in which notable royal events have taken place tend to improve the viewership of the Christmas speech. This was seen in 1992, when ratings surged after a string of royal controversies including the marriages breakdowns of both Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, the release of Andrew Morton’s book Diana: Her True Story, and the public airings of the embarrassing "Squidgygate" and "Camillagate" private phone calls.
Up until 1995, the BBC held the rights as the only broadcaster with permission to air the Queen's speech, however this changed in 1997 when the royal family announced that the channel would alternate with ITV from then on. Although not confirmed, it is speculated that the motive behind this decision was an act of "royal revenge" in response to the BBC's decision to air a Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales earlier that year.
Since then, the Sky News channel has also been permitted to air the Queen's address to the nation — and viewers can enjoy the contents of the speech on television, radio and online. And in celebration of the Queen's diamond jubilee in 2012, the Christmas speech was broadcast in 3D for the first time ever.