The British royal family was slow to appreciate the importance of sound recording as a means of communicating with the general public. Neither Queen Victoria nor Edward VII made any commercial recordings. The first royal recording was made by George V and Queen Mary to mark Empire Day in 1923. The recording included here was the first royal Christmas Day broadcast on the radio, also published as a commercial 78rpm disc and the start of a tradition that continues today.
This is an edited extract from a longer recording.
Through one of the marvels of modern science, I am enabled, this Christmas Day, to speak to all my peoples throughout the Empire. I take it as a good omen that wireless should have reached its present perfection at a time when the Empire has been linked in closer union, for it offers us immense possibilities to make that union closer still.
It may be that our future will lay upon us more than one stern test. Our past will have taught us how to meet it unshaken. For the present, the work to which we are all equally bound is to arrive at a reasoned tranquillity within our borders, to regain prosperity without self-seeking and to carry with us those whom the burden of past years has disheartened or overborne. My life’s aim has been to serve as I might towards those ends, for your loyalty, your confidence in me, has been my abundant reward.
I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all. To men and women so cut off by the snows, the deserts or the seas, that only voices out of the air can reach them; to those cut off from fuller life by blindness, sickness or infirmity; and to those who are celebrating this day with their children and their grandchildren; to all, to each, I wish a happy Christmas. God bless you.