Queen's message praises 2012 'army of volunteers'


The Queen praised "the strength of fellowship" apparent at her Jubilee celebrations

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The Queen has praised the "army of volunteers" at the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In her Christmas message, she said it was striking to see the "friendship" of so many people who marked her Jubilee, particularly during the river pageant.

She said the 1,000-vessel pageant on the Thames - on a wet, cold June day - showed a "determination to celebrate triumphing over the elements".

She earlier attended Christmas service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Norfolk.


Her husband, sons and daughter, plus many grandchildren, accompanied the Queen to church. Afterwards she received bouquets of flowers and spoke to about 70 children who had waited outside for her.

The Queen traditionally spends the festive period with her family at Sandringham, but this year has not been joined by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are with the duchess's family in Bucklebury, Berkshire.


There must have been times during the 60 years of her reign when the Queen and her advisers have struggled to find something new to say in her Christmas broadcast.

2012, by contrast, must have been one of the easiest broadcasts to write. Its themes were obvious. After a successful Diamond Jubilee and triumphant Olympic and Paralympic Games, the focus of the broadcast could hardly have been anything other than a "year of great celebrations."

The Queen said she found it "humbling" that so many people had chosen to mark the anniversary of what she called a "duty" which had passed to her 60 years ago.

Her choice of words tells us something. It reminds us that the monarch remains an essentially modest person, for whom the concepts of "service" and "duty" remain absolutely central, even after 60 years on the throne.

As a Christmas message it was a classic, making use of strong images and powerful emotions, rounded off with the essential Christian message of humanity and caring for others.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Prince William and Catherine were expecting their first child, after the duchess was admitted to hospital with acute morning sickness.

Prince Harry is absent from the celebrations, as he is currently serving as an Apache helicopter pilot with the Army Air Corps in Afghanistan.

The Queen's message, broadcast in 3D for the first time, was interspersed with footage from the large-scale UK events of 2012.

"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 mark 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 most striking of all was to witness the strength of fellowship and friendship among those who had gathered together on these occasions."

She praised the large contingent of volunteers who adopted many roles during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, held in London during summer.

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

"Those public-spirited people came forward in the great tradition of all those who devote themselves to keeping other safe, supported and comforted."

One of the large set-pieces of the year was the 1,000-vessel river pageant, which was watched by an estimated one million people along the banks of the Thames.

'Reach out'

The Queen, her husband Prince Philip, and other members of the Royal Family, sailed down the Thames during the pageant and then moored for hours in the rain to watch the vessels sail past. Prince Philip subsequently spent five nights in hospital with a bladder infection.

The Queen said: "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. That day was a tremendous sense of common determination to celebrate triumphing over the elements."

She said that for many - particularly the Armed Forces, emergency services and hospital workers - Christmas was a time for serving others, and being away from loved ones.

"And those who have lost loved ones may find this day especially full of memories. 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 recalled the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus, saying: "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."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    The Queen has more gravitas than Wee Davie ever will have. And Phil would make a great PM.

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    314. Guiseley Pete
    I'm fed up reading all this lefty republican nonsense
    Those pesky lefties are republicans as well now? They are a versatile lot, aren't they? Very multifaceted. I'm almost starting to like them, they are anything but dull, narrowminded and suffocating.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    to 311:Yes people do come to see the palaces etc, but IMO they come to see them due to history of the monarchy when the Royal Family served a purpose. I don't think we should get rid of the palaces and land marks, as people will continue to visit them-but I do think we should get rid of the current Royal family.Tourists rarely get to see the current royals, they are more interested in the history.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.


    Been at the Christmas Sherry then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    301. Oh the rhetoric is wonderful and to be expected. Not so your interpretation of the figures in the context of what you are trying to argue - i.e. that the Windsor family increases revenue from tourism. They clearly show a loss. Yes, goodnight G H.

  • Comment number 319.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    308 SuzannaYebeni
    The last British monarch to lead troops was George II in 1743 - 270 years ago. The current incumbent's son fought during the Falklands conflict, her husband during the Second World War, her grandson is out in Afghanistan. If you don't like a Monarchy, go live in a Republic!

  • Comment number 317.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    The Versailles argument- 'We have found a tourist attraction in the world which has a higher footfall than Buckingham Palace and yet doesn't have a monarch living in it. Therefore this is a good argument to abolish the monarchy'. Oh dear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    @Surely Not,

    Nothing wrong with reforming - something I fully support when it's done well (and for the right reasons, reform for reform's sake is dangerous).

    Devolving power has worked well so far, and I'd love to see it applied more consistently and fairly, including allowing England a devolved administration and leaving a much smaller Westminster as the gvt of UK.

    No affect on the Royals, tho

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    I'm fed up reading all this lefty republican nonsense. The Royal Family do not hold any levers of power, do not control the economy and the Queen as head of state is apolitical and costs every man, woman and child around 30 p per annum. All this tosh about leading us out of recession is garbage as it's not her role. The alternative is too scary to contemplate. Prezza, Blair, Pickles anyone?

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    The excitement of a traditional involuntarily monarchy removal can only add tourist value to our Royal sites after the dust settles. People attend NASCAR races as much to see a crash as anything else and we need all the cash we get to pay off the national debt right now or we'll all be volunteers...

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    So not liking the Queen makes you a republican? Funny, because where I come from (SE London), it's wanting a president that makes you a republican. I like Liz. I don't like Chaz or Bill. I guess I am a Republichist. Or a Monarcan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    I do believe we should keep the royals, the contribute more to the economy than the economy contributes to them, people come to our country to see the palaces and the royal estates, so where is your argument that they are a waste of money now? If we had no royal family a significant chunk of our tourism income will be lost

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.


    The dynasty change comment alluded to my earlier questions

    As pointed out by many, both 'royalty' and politics has never stood still in this and other lands

    The stability argument is tenuous. There has been a constant, slow, puncuated, evolution of the systems here towards ever more devolved power

    It has happened because of taking rather than giving

    Thanks for the chat

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    How would abolishing the monarchy and having an elected "Head of State" make us any happier? It seems to me that, at any one time, approx. 75% of the public seem to be unhappy about the incumbent Government. The very Government the public elected.

  • Comment number 308.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    Let us not forget that many of these "volunteers" were nothing of the sort, but were instead forced labourers under threat of destitution if they didn't.

  • Comment number 306.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    If the Queens broadcast is in 3D does that mean you can see the back of her head when she's talking
    There are times when increased technology is a bit pointless


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