Monarch launches YouTube channel

Queen Elizabeth II will send Christmas greetings

LONDON -- Britain's 81-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, considered an icon of traditionalism, launched her own special Royal Channel on YouTube Sunday.

The queen will use the popular video-sharing Web site to send out her 50th annual televised Christmas message, which she first delivered live to the nation and its colonies on Dec. 25, 1957.

Buckingham Palace also began posting archive and recent footage of the queen and other royals on the channel Sunday, with plans to add new clips regularly.

YouTube, which allows anyone to upload and share video clips, was founded in 2005 and bought by Google last year.

"The queen always keeps abreast with new ways of communicating with people," Buckingham Palace said in a statement. "The Christmas message was podcast last year."

The palace said, "She has always been aware of reaching more people and adapting the communication to suit. This will make the Christmas message more accessible to younger people and those in other countries."

The royal page -- which bears the scarlet lettered heading "The Royal Channel - The Official Channel of the British Monarchy" -- is illustrated with a photograph of Buckingham Palace flanked by the queen's Guards in their tall bearskin hats and red tunics.

Its modern video clips show shots of garden parties, state visits, the queen, the many British prime ministers who have served during her reign and a day in the life of her son, Prince Charles.

The footage of the queen's 1957 Christmas TV broadcast will remind viewers that TV once was as groundbreaking a creation as Internet is today.

"I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct. That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us," the queen said of television at the time.

The Royal Channel also shows excerpts from Lord Wakehurst's film "Long to Reign Over Us," which has never been publicly released. Wakehurst, a member of Parliament who died in 1970, was an avid amateur film maker, charting events such as Queen Elizabeth II's accession and coronation.

The color images convey the historical events from the public's perspective, showing crowds holding street parties and camping out on The Mall -- the wide boulevard outside Buckingham Palace -- to catch a glimpse of the queen on Coronation Day.

The Royal Channel also includes rarely seen silent news footage of the 1923 wedding of the queen's parents, then known as the Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

On Tuesday, Queen Elizabeth II's annual Christmas speech can once again be downloaded as a podcast from www.royal.gov.uk. It also is being made available on television in high definition for the first time.
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