Queen's Christmas message urges serving others

Queen Elizabeth's Christmas message urges carrying on the spirit of togetherness and friendship captured in 2012 by the London Summer Olympics and Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and reaching out beyond "familiar relationships" to serve others.

The past year featured many celebratory moments and events, said the Queen, wearing an off-white, long-sleeved dress splashed with a silvery-grey pattern.

During Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking her 60 years on the throne, "people of all ages took the trouble to take part in various ways and in many nations, but perhaps most striking of all was to witness the strength of fellowship and friendship among those who had gathered together on these occasions," the 86-year-old monarch said in a broadcast aired worldwide on TV and radio at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, and available online through the Royal Family's YouTube channel.

As she spoke about the jubilee, a video showed the Queen, Prince Philip, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and other Royal Family members aboard The Spirit of Chartwell last June, as 1,000 boats saluted the royal barge in the Thames River and huge crowds cheered.

"That same spirit was also in evidence from the moment the Olympic flame arrived on these shores," the Queen said in the speech, recorded earlier this month in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.

At the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics, held in London for the first time since 1948, a video showed James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, arriving at Buckingham Palace to escort the Queen to the ceremony, and then a stunt double playing the monarch skydiving out of a helicopter to make her big arrival at the Games.

In her televised Christmas speech, as a video showed a spectacular fireworks display and the British team marching into the stadium, the Queen said "the flame itself drew hundreds and thousands of people on its journey around the British Isles, and was carried by every kind of deserving individual, many nominated for their own extraordinary service.

"We were reminded too that the success of these great festivals depended to an enormous degree to a dedication and effort of an army of volunteers," she said.

Christmas is a time for coming together for many people, the Queen said, but noted that those in the Armed Forces, emergency services and hospitals will be away from family and friends, and that many people may have lost loved ones.

"That's why it's important at this time of year to reach out beyond our familiar relationships to think of those who are on their own," she said.

"This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only Son to serve, not to be served. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others."

In closing, the Queen notes words in the Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter that ask, "What can I give Him, poor as I am?" referring to the Christ child, and the response, "Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart." The carol, based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti, is then sung by the Military Wives Choir in the opulent Ballroom at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen's annual Christmas broadcast has been a tradition on radio since 1952, and on TV since 1957. The Queen writes the speeches herself, one of the few occasions she voices her own opinion without government consultation. For the first time, on Tuesday, the message was broadcast in 3D.

The Queen's Christmas speech a year ago focused on family, in a year heralded by the marriage of her grandson, Prince William, to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey. However, in her 2012 remarks, recorded Dec. 7, the Queen made no mention of individuals in her own family, despite the fact the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first baby at some point in the spring or early summer.

Also on Christmas Day, the Royal Family attended church services, with a few notable absences.

Wearing a turquoise coat and matching hat, the Queen arrived at St. Mary Magdelene Church on her sprawling Sandringham estate in Norfolk. She was accompanied in a Bentley by granddaughters Beatrice and Eugenie. Prince Philip walked from the house to the church with other members of the Royal Family.

The Duke of Cambridge is spending the holiday with his wife, Kate, and his in-laws in the southern England village of Bucklebury. Prince Harry is serving with British troops in Afghanistan.

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