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Queen's Christmas message hails unifying role of sport

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Media captionHer Majesty Queen Elizabeth II delivers her annual Christmas message

The Queen has emphasised the role of sport in "bringing people together from all backgrounds, from all walks of life" in her Christmas message.

She praised its role in building communities and creating harmony, and highlighted the role of volunteers.

"Apart from developing physical fitness, sport and games can also teach vital social skills," she added.

Christmas Day messages are usually recorded at Buckingham Palace, but this year Hampton Court Palace was used.

'Team spirit'

In her message, the Queen praised the thousands of people across the country who give up their time to participate in physical activity, highlighting the "different perspective on life" offered by all sports.

She added: "None can be enjoyed without abiding by the rules, and no team can hope to succeed without co-operation between the players. This sort of positive team spirit can benefit communities, companies and enterprises of all kinds."

The Queen said the Paralympics and the injured men and women of the armed forces demonstrated the ability of sport to rehabilitate and "renew a sense of purpose, enjoyment and comradeship".

She added that the Commonwealth Games showed how it offered a focus for pride in one's country but also "a sense of belonging to a wider family".

"Right around the world, people gather to compete under standard rules and, in most cases, in a spirit of friendly rivalry," she said.

"Competitors know that, to succeed, they must respect their opponents; very often, they like each other too."

Members of the Royal Family are celebrating Christmas at the Queen's country retreat Sandringham in Norfolk.

The broadcast, produced by ITN, will be available on the Royal Channel of the YouTube website.

It is also being shown in Commonwealth countries and on the British Forces Broadcasting Service.

Image caption Well-wishers gathered to greet the Queen after the Christmas Day service in Sandingham.

The Royal Family made their traditional appearance after morning service at the church on Sandringham.

But Prince William is not there because he is on call with his search and rescue squadron at RAF Valley on Anglesey.

His fiancee Kate Middleton is thought to be spending Christmas Day privately with her family in Berkshire.

Newly engaged Zara Phillips is expected to be with her England rugby player fiance Mike Tindall in Gloucestershire.

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