The Queen drew on her Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the inspiration of the Olympics and Paralympics to highlight a momentous year for Britain.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
The Queen drew on the “humbling” experience of her diamond jubilee celebrations and the inspiration of the Olympics and Paralympics to highlight a momentous year for Britain in her annual Christmas broadcast.
Recalling the year’s challenges – sporting, logistical and meteorological — she spoke of the sense of achievement and demonstration of public-spiritedness that had imbued the nation during 2012.
Clearly struck by the “strength of fellowship and friendship” shown by wellwishers, particularly those who braved inclement weather during the Thames diamond jubilee river pageant, she paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands who lined the banks “undaunted by the rain”.
She also praised the athletes, torch bearers and volunteer Games Makers for inspiring the country with their efforts.
Drawing from her own Christian faith, she highlighted the story at the heart of Christmas – the birth of Jesus. But she made no mention of news of an impending royal birth. The Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy was announced just a few days before her broadcast was recorded on 7 December.
Neither the Duke of Cambridge nor his wife attended the traditional royal family gathering at Sandringham, choosing to spend Christmas privately with the duchess’s family in Berkshire instead. Prince Harry, who is serving as an apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, was also absent.
In her message, broadcast in 3D for the first time, she said: “This past year has been one of great celebration for many.
“The enthusiasm which greeted the diamond jubilee was, of course, especially memorable for me and my family.
“It was humbling that so many chose to make the anniversary of a duty which passed to me 60 years ago. People of all ages took the trouble to take part in various ways and in many nations.
“But, perhaps the most striking of all was to witness the strength of fellowship and friendship among those who had gathered together on these occasions.”
The broadcast featured panoramic shots of the hundreds of boats, tugs, cruisers and canoes sailing past the Houses of Parliament during the pageant staged as part of the national celebrations in June. It was after the pageant that the Duke of Edinburgh, 91, who was seen jigging along to a nautical tune on the royal barge, was hospitalised with a bladder infection, missing the finale of the jubilee weekend.
“On the barges and the bridges and the banks of the river there were people who had taken their places to cheer through the mist, undaunted by the rain,” he Queen , 86, observed in her message.
“That day there was a tremendous sense of common determination to celebrate, triumphing over the elements.”
That same spirit was evident once the Olympic flame reached the UK, she 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,” she said.
Footage showed torch bearers including the paratrooper Ben Parkinson, one of the most seriously wounded soldiers to survive the war in Afghanistan after losing both legs and suffering brain and back injuries in a 2006 bomb attack, as he carried the flame through his home town of Doncaster, south Yorkshire.
Another torch bearer featured was the military cross holder Corporal Ricky Fergusson, who lost both legs, five fingers and his left eye in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2010.
The Queen paid tribute to the sportsmen and women. “As London hosted the splendid summer of sport, all those who saw the achievement and courage at the Olympic and Paralympic Games were further inspired by the skill, dedication, training and teamwork of our athletes,” she said.
The cyclist Bradley Wiggins, the 10,000m and 5,000m gold medallist Mo Farah, the wheelchair racer David Weir, who won four golds, and Usain Bolt, powering over the finish line to retain his 100m Olympic title, all featured.
The thousands of volunteers were the public face of the Games, she said. “Those public-spirited people came forward in the great tradition of all those who devote themselves to keeping others safe, supported and comforted,” she said.
The Queen said the nation must not forget those unable to be with their loved ones at Christmas because of serving their country and others.
“For many, Christmas is also a time for coming together. But for others, service will come first,” she said.
“Those serving in our armed forces, in our emergency services and in our hospitals, whose sense of duty takes them away from family and friends, will be missing those they love.”
Concluding with a religious theme, she said: “A young mother and a dutiful father with their baby were joined by poor shepherds and visitors from afar. They came with their gifts to worship Christ the child,” she said.
“From that day on, he has inspired people to commit themselves to the best interests of others.”
Filmed in the white drawing room at Buckingham Palace, the broadcast showed the British Paraorchestra, which accompanied Coldplay during the Paralympics closing ceremony, but did not replay the Queen’s James Bond debut during the Olympic opening ceremony. Underlying the message to the armed forces, the final segment of the message was set to the Military Wives Choir, with the choirmaster Gareth Malone, singing the carol In the Bleak Midwinter.
The Queen attended the traditional Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene church on the royal Sandringham estate in Norfolk, arriving by car, having missed Sunday’s service because of a heavy cold. Prince Philip, 91, who last year missed the Christmas gathering because of a heart problem, walked to the church. Other members of the royal family present included the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, and princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010