We already knew that Christmas Day TV this year would involve a spot time travelling by a woman making TV history but the Queen surprised us all by stealing a march on Doctor Who and getting in there first. Elizabeth II's Christmas Day message this year saw us go back to the Fifties with the Royal Family and then come right back up to date again. As all good messages at this time of year should, it also looked to the future. But at the heart of it all was one word - home.
''There is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home'' the Queen said in her speech from Buckingham Palace, her home of 91 years. There is a timeless simplicity, too, to the way in which millions stop at 3pm to watch her message. But, as she reminded us at the start of this year's broadcast, that tradition began just sixty years ago when she made the first televised Christmas speech after following the pattern of her father and grandfather by broadcasting only on radio in the early years of her reign. We were treated to a glimpse of that first speech before returning to the present but it is a reminder, as if we need it, of just how much has changed in the Queen's record breaking reign.
"We think of our homes as places of warmth, familiarity and love... there is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home."— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) December 25, 2017
Watch Her Majesty The Queen's Christmas broadcast 2017. Merry Christmas to all. #ChristmasDay2017 pic.twitter.com/s9HAvPvrKO
Some things, however, don't alter and, as she does every year, the Queen paid tribute to those who have made such a difference to the lives of many. She spoke with emotion about meeting some of those injured in the Manchester Arena bombing and of those who helped in its aftermath and in the terror attacks in London this year. She also talked poignantly of the immense loss and sadness of the Grenfell Tower fire and of the tireless work of the emergency services during and after that disaster.
Amidst the sadness, came hope. The Queen also spoke of those helping the homeless to find food and shelter at Christmas and of the work volunteers and charities do for so many at this time of year. On a personal note, she talked of welcoming new members to her family in 2018 while behind her sat photos of Prince George and Princess Charlotte whose new sibling no doubt get a mention in the next Queen's speech. We also know that this time next year we'll be looking back at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and their images, too, features in the arrangement around the Queen.
As was to be expected, there was a tribute, too, to the Duke of Edinburgh whose retirement was referenced with good humour. But there was also a gentle reminder that times are changing. The speech ended with It Came Upon a Midnight Clear and as the images of the Queen and Prince Philip faded back to the choir, we heard the line 'for lo, the days are hastening on...' There is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home and for many the Queen's speech, like the woman herself, are a pull to the simple things that mark a year, a season and a celebration. This year, she reminded us that although things may change, much stays the same, even if the image alters before our eyes.