“I stand here in this beautiful St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, so close to where my beloved mother, the late Queen, rests with my dear father.
“I remember the deeply touching letters, cards and messages that so many of you sent to my wife and myself and I cannot thank you enough for the love and sympathy you have shown to all of our family. .
“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 every cherished tradition.
‘In the much-loved carol O Little Town Of Bethlehem, we sing how ‘in your dark streets shines eternal light’.
“My mother’s belief in the power of this light was an essential part of her faith in God, but also her faith in people and it is one that I wholeheartedly share.
“It is a belief in the extraordinary capacity of each person to touch, with kindness and compassion, the lives of others and to shine a light in the world around them.
“It is the essence of our community and the very foundation of our society.
“We see it in the selfless dedication of our Armed Forces and Emergency Services who work tirelessly to keep us all safe and have performed so well as we mourn the passing of our late Queen.
“We see it in our health and social care professionals, our teachers and of course everyone who works in public service, whose skills and commitment are at the heart of our communities.
“And in this time of great anxiety and hardship, whether for those around the world facing conflict, famine or natural disaster, or for those finding ways at home to pay their bills and keeping their families fed and warm, we see it in the humanity of the people of our nations and the Commonwealth who react so readily to the plight of others.
“I especially want to pay tribute to all those wonderfully kind people who give so generously of food or donations, or that most precious asset of all, their time, to support those around them in greatest need, as well as the many charities that do extraordinary work in the most difficult of circumstances.
“Our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras have once again united to feed the hungry, bringing them love and support throughout the year.
“Such heartfelt solidarity is the most inspiring expression of loving our neighbor as ourselves.
“The Prince and Princess of Wales recently visited Wales, highlighting practical examples of this community spirit.
“A few years ago I was able to fulfill my life’s wish to visit Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity.
“There I descended into the manger chapel and stood in silent reverence by the silver star which is embedded in the floor and marks the birthplace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
‘It meant more to me than I can express to stand in this place where, as the Bible tells us, ‘The light that came into the world’ was born.
“While Christmas is, of course, a Christian holiday, the power of light overcoming darkness is celebrated beyond the boundaries of faith and belief.
“So whatever faith you have, or if you don’t, it is in that life-giving light, and with the true humility that lies in our service to others, that I believe we can find the hope for the future.
“So let’s celebrate it together and cherish it always.
“With all my heart, I wish you each a Christmas of peace, happiness and eternal light.