Britain’s King Charles III offered sympathy to those struggling with “great anxiety and hardship” in his first Christmas broadcast as the U.K.’s monarch Sunday, amid a spiraling cost-of-living crisis.
Praising individuals, charities and faith groups supporting those in need, Charles said he wanted to pay tribute “to all those wonderfully kind people who so generously give food or donations, or that most precious commodity of all — their time — to support those around them in greatest need.”
“At this time of great anxiety and hardship — be it for those around the world facing conflict, famine or natural disaster, or for those at home finding ways to pay their bills and keep their families fed and warm we see it in the humanity of people throughout our nations,” he added.
Charles, 73, who ascended to the royal throne in September after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, said “Christmas was 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,” he said in the prerecorded message that was filmed in St George’s Chapel, Windsor where both his mother and father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, were laid to rest.
First broadcast in 1932, the message from the monarch has aired on television and radio in Britain and Commonwealth countries for the last 90 years.
It is typically a chronicle of the year’s major events, reflecting the monarch’s reflections of the year.
Charles’ address comes after tough year for the U.K. which saw interest rates and mortgage payments rise, the value of the pound crash and the government’s cost of borrowing soar.
There has also been a series of walkouts by public workers over wages amid historic inflation.
U.K. border staff went on strike Friday, affecting airport services, three days after thousands of nurses walked out in their second 24-hour strike in December. Ambulance and paramedic workers went on a strike earlier in the week and have another planned for Dec. 28.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak insisted his government has acted “fairly and reasonably” in public sector pay negotiations.
The royal family has also been under intense scrutiny recently because of a six-part Netflix documentary about Harry and Meghan, in which the couple blame the royal household and the British media for their decision to quit royal duties in 2020 and move to California.