King Charles paid tribute to his mother’s work during his first festive address. This year’s broadcast was pre-taped in St George’s Chapel in Windsor, remembered as being the resting place for the queen’s committal service in September following her death.
King Charles’ first Christmas message attracted the highest viewing figures this century for the monarch’s traditional festive address, overnight viewing figures have shown. More channels than ever carried the 3pm address and the combined audience was 10.7 million. Whereas, Queen Elizabeth II’s final Christmas message a year ago was seen by 8.96 million viewers.
According to figures collated by Sussex University, the audience for the late Queen’s annual broadcast dropped below 10 million in the late 1990s and had not climbed that high again.
In recent years, the message has regularly been the most-watched Christmas Day program but that is because viewers have increasingly switched off other Christmas shows or just watch them at a later time. The Queen’s address was still seen by many as a live event to be watched at the time of transmission, even though it was actually pre-recorded.
The increased interest in what the King would say in his first message meant that it was shown simultaneously on BBC One, ITV1, ITV3, Sky News and GB News – with a signed version on BBC Two. In the speech, King Charles paid tribute to his mother’s work. He also took the opportunity to reflect on the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, as he spoke of those struggling to pay their bills.
The number of viewers is based on “overnight” figures – largely based on viewers who were watching the programs live. So they do not include viewers who watch Christmas specials on catch-up services during the rest of the festive period.