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Queen calls for courage in hard times

Latest update : 2008-12-25

Worries about the global economy and violence across the world have darkened Christmas this year, Queen Elizabeth said in her traditional Christmas address to the Commonwealth, urging her subjects not to "lie down and accept defeat".

AFP - Queen Elizabeth II urged victims of the credit crunch not to "lie down and accept defeat" but to draw strength from loved ones in her annual Christmas message to the Commonwealth Thursday.

The 82-year-old monarch also made an apparent reference to last month's attacks in India's financial hub Mumbai which left 163 people dead in the message, which she writes herself and is broadcast every Christmas at 1500 GMT.

"Christmas is a time for celebration, but this year it is a more sombre occasion for many," she said.

"Some of those things which could once have been taken for granted suddenly seem less certain and naturally give rise to feelings of insecurity.

"People are touched by events which have their roots far across the world. Whether it is the global economy or violence in a distant land, the effects can be keenly felt at home."

This year's pre-recorded address was delivered from the music room at Buckingham Palace in London, where the queen -- wearing a simple beige dress and pearl necklace -- stood in front of a grand piano covered with family photographs, with a Christmas tree in the background.

It will be watched on television and heard on the radio by millions of people across the 53-nation Commonwealth and more widely and is also broadcast via the royal channel on Internet video site YouTube.

The queen said that, in uncertain times people could "learn something from the past" and "begin to see things in a new perspective", hailing the example of people who live "outgoing and unselfish lives".

"When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future," she said.

"I think we have a huge amount to learn from individuals such as these. And what I believe many of us share with them is a source of strength and peace of mind in our families and friends."

The monarch highlighted the support she receives from her own family in the year Prince Charles turned 60. She also praised her eldest child's charity work.

The broadcast featured previously unseen home movie footage of the queen playing with a smiling, one-year-old Charles in 1949 at Clarence House in London.

The royal family have enjoyed shooting videos for years, ever since the queen received a movie camera soon after she married Prince Philip in 1947.

She also paid tribute to members of the British armed forces serving in Afghanistan and Iraq this Christmas, saying they were working to bring "peace and security to troubled places".

The queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, a bearded Prince William, Prince Harry and other royals attended their traditional Christmas Day church service near her estate at Sandringham, eastern England, Thursday.

They were greeted by around 2,000 well-wishers and afterwards, the queen accepted flowers from local children.

Date created : 2008-12-25