Duchess Kate's Christmas message: Kindness, royal carols help banish pandemic bleakness

Maria Puente
USA TODAY

Merry Christmas from the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton-turned-future queen, taking her place on the royal stage as comforter-in-chief to a nation again reeling from a surge in the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Christmas Eve, when her royal carols service at Westminster Abbey airs in Britain, listeners will hear and see a relatively rare recording of the duchess, 39, confidently introducing the broadcast as a celebration of goodwill and kindness to help navigate a "bleak" pandemic era.

Her message acknowledges the horrors of the past two years but asserts the possibilities of recovery through love and compassion, according to a transcript and video clip released by Kensington Palace. 

Duchess Kate of Cambridge hosted "Royal Carols: Together at Christmas," a community carol service at Westminster Abbey on Dec. 8, 2021.

"We’ve been through such a bleak time," Kate says in her introduction to "Royal Carols: Together at Christmas, " a service she organized and hosted, accompanied by Prince William and other royal relations, at Westminster Abbey on Dec. 8. The program was produced with the BBC and will air on ITV Friday evening.

"We’ve seen so many challenges. We’ve lost our loved ones. We’ve seen our frontline workers under immense pressure. And also we’ve been more emotionally and socially distanced and isolated from each other," Kate said in the introduction.

"But I suppose through that separation, we’ve also realized how much we need each other and how acts of kindness and love can really bring us comfort and relief in times of distress," Kate added.

Duchess Kate of Cambridge helps decorate Westminster Abbey before hosting a royal carols service there on Dec. 8, 2021. "Royal Carols: Together at Christmas" will air in Britain on Christmas Eve.

The carols service was intended to be a "huge thank you" to Brits who have supported their communities through the pandemic, and to recognize those whose struggles have been less visible, she said. 

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"Music was so important to me during the pandemic as I think it was to so many people, too," she said. "But above all it’s about celebrating the goodwill, the acts of kindness, love, empathy and compassion to help people come through these difficult times."

The program took place at the royal Abbey – "a place that’s really special to William and me" – where she and the second-in-line to the throne were married in 2011

Prince William, Duchess Kate of Cambridge and Countess Sophie of Wessex take part in 'Royal Carols; Together At Christmas," a carols service hosted by the duchess at Westminster Abbey to be broadcast on Christmas Eve on ITV.

Kensington Palace said Kate's introduction was recorded the day before the service during her visit to the Abbey to help with preparations, including decorating Christmas trees donated by grandmother-in-law Queen Elizabeth II from Windsor Great Park and arranging wreaths donated by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Christmas 2021 is turning out to be as restricted as it was in 2020 thanks to a surge in the omicron virus variant. The queen's annual pre-Christmas lunch for her extended family had to be canceled, and the traditional trip to her Sandringham estate in Norfolk for the holidays also had to be canceled. Instead, the queen is spending her first Christmas since the April death of Prince Philip, her husband of seven decades, at Windsor Castle.  

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The carols service, which was supported by the Cambridges' Royal Foundation, was attended by "unsung heroes" from around the United Kingdom recognized for "inspirational" efforts to protect and care for those around them, and nominated by community networks, charitable organizations and royal patronages.

In the audience were people Will and Kate met during their recent engagements, including young carers, faith leaders, and armed forces personnel involved in the evacuation of British nationals and Afghans from Afghanistan.

Duchess Kate of Cambridge in the first trailer for "Royal Carols: Together At Christmas," a Christmas carol service hosted by Kate at Westminster Abbey on Dec. 8, to be broadcast on Christmas Eve on ITV in Britain.

Duchess Kate stood out at the service in a Christmas red coat by Catherine Walker and a stunning pair of diamond and sapphire earrings. 

Aside from some of the most beloved English Christmas carols, the program showcases the famous Westminster Abbey choir and performances by Leona Lewis, Ellie Goulding and a special performance by Tom Walker of his Christmas single, "For Those Who Can’t Be Here," the palace said. 

Readings were delivered by Prince William, British Paralympian and junior doctor Kim Daybell, "Harry Potteractor Tom Felton, and presenter Kate Garraway, in addition to a performance of "To The Day," a poignant composition written for the service by poet, broadcaster and writer Lemn Sissay

The Piper to the Sovereign, better known as the Queen's Piper, played the bagpipes standing by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Abbey. 

Aside from the Cambridges, other royals at the service included William's cousins, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice and Beatrice's husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi; and another cousin, Zara Tindall and her husband Mike Tindall. Sophie, Countess of Wessex, wife of Will's uncle Prince Edward, the queen's youngest son, also attended the service.