Like mother like son.
King Charles III delivered his first Christmas speech following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in a similar fashion to her: Invoking the spirit of service, but also recognizing the power of grief.
“I am standing here in this exquisite chapel of St. George at Windsor Castle, so close to where my beloved mother, the late queen, is laid to rest with my dear father,” the king, 74, began in his speech Sunday in the church’s quire, where his mother gave the same speech in 1999. “I am reminded of the deeply touching letters, cards and messages which so many of you have sent my wife and myself and I cannot thank you enough for the love and sympathy you have shown our whole family.”
He added: “Christmas is a particularly poignant time for all of us who have lost loved ones. We feel their absence at every familiar turn of the season and remember them in each cherished tradition.” The queen died in September at 96 after a more than 70-year-reign, the longest ever.
The king also spoke of his mother’s faith in God, but also in their shared faith in people. He honored “the selfless dedication of our Armed Forces and Emergency Services who work tirelessly to keep us all safe, and who performed so magnificently as we mourned the passing of our late Queen,” as well as health care workers, teachers and those who work in public service.
He talked about religions beyond Christianity, too: “Our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras, have once again united in feeding the hungry, providing love and support throughout the year. Such heartfelt solidarity is the most inspiring expression of loving our neighbor as ourself.”
He referenced his son William and daughter-in-law Kate, the new Prince and Princess of Wales, and their visit to Wales, “shining a light on practical examples of this community spirit.” He did not make any direction mention of his other son Prince Harry nor his wife Duchess Meghan; accompanying footage features the working royals, including the king’s siblings Princess Royal Anne and Edward and Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
He closed his speech with another callback to service, beyond any faith. “While Christmas is, of course, a Christian celebration, the power of light overcoming darkness is celebrated across the boundaries of faith and belief,” he said. “So, whatever faith you have, or whether you have none, it is in this life-giving light, and with the true humility that lies in our service to others, that I believe we can find hope for the future. Let us therefore celebrate it together, and cherish it always.”
And of course: “With all my heart, I wish each of you a Christmas of peace, happiness and everlasting light.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: King Charles III gives first Christmas speech after Queen Elizabeth II