During the broadcast the monarch also acknowledged the birth of her fifth great-grandchild Princess Charlotte, born in May, and made a light-hearted reference to her approaching 90th birthday on 21 April.
And at the end of a year which saw the head of state become the nation’s longest reigning monarch, surpassing Queen Victoria’s record, the Queen acknowledged the influence of her great-great grandparents, Victoria and Prince Albert, on the nation’s Christmas traditions.
A series of terrorist atrocities have shocked the world during 2015, from the mass shootings and bombings in Paris last month to the gun attack at a Tunisian resort during the summer.
But the Queen, whose address traditionally has a strong religious framework, reflecting her own faith, sounded an optimistic tone when she quoted a verse from the Bible.
Reflecting on the past 12 months, the monarch said during her annual address to the nation: “It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’.”
Sitting at a desk in Buckingham Palace’s 18th Century Room, with a decorated fireplace and Christmas tree in the background, the Queen went on to say: “Gathering round the tree gives us a chance to think about the year ahead – I am looking forward to a busy 2016, though I have been warned I may have Happy Birthday sung to me more than once or twice.
“It also allows us to reflect on the year that has passed, as we think of those who are far away or no longer with us. Many people say the first Christmas after losing a loved one is particularly hard. But it’s also a time to remember all that we have to be thankful for.”
The monarch, who wore a white and silver tweed day dress by Angela Kelly, went on to mention the latest addition to her family: “One of the joys of living a long life is watching one’s children, then grandchildren, then great-grandchildren, help decorate the Christmas tree. And this year my family has a new member to join in the fun.”
The broadcast, produced this year by ITN, was a departure from previous Christmas messages as it was not interspersed with footage filmed at royal events. Instead, a montage of royal engagements, featuring all senior members of the Royal Family, was shown at the start.
But a 19th-century image of Victoria and Albert around a candle-lit tree was shown and the Queen said: “After this touching picture was published, many families wanted a Christmas tree of their own, and the custom soon spread.”
Queen Charlotte, the German-born wife of George III, is credited with introducing the Christmas tree to Britain. But it was Albert who popularised it. And while most people open their presents on Christmas Day, the Royal Family still keep to the German practice of unwrapping their gifts on Christmas Eve.