‘Humbled’ Queen in tribute to nation’s fellowship

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The Queen has used her Christmas broadcast to respond to the outpouring of affection and enthusiasm shown by the nation during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

She described how she was left humbled by the huge crowds that turned out to mark her historic milestone.

As her momentous year draws to a close, she said she was struck by the “strength of fellowship and friendship” shown by well-wishers, most memorably during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant when more than a million people lined the banks of the river.

Despite the cold conditions and persistent downpours, the crowds who witnessed the once-in-a-lifetime flotilla were “undaunted by the rain”, she said in her address.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games were another highlight of 2012 for the Queen.

She paid tribute to the athletes, Olympic Torch bearers and volunteer Games Makers for either inspiring the nation with their efforts or devoting themselves to others.

The message, produced by Sky News, was broadcast in 3D for the first time and elements of the footage appeared to leap out from the screen. It was also shown in HD and standard definition.

In her annual address to the nation, the Queen, who yesterday joined The Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of York, the Earl and the Countess of Wessex and princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, for the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham, 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 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.”

The broadcast featured panoramic shots of hundreds of boats, tugs, ships, cruisers and canoes sailing down river past the Houses of Parliament during the pageant staged as part of the national celebrations in June.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry were shown waving to the crowds, while well-wishers stood on the riverbanks drenched by the downpours but still clearly enjoying themselves.

In a light-hearted moment the Duke of Edinburgh was featured jigging along to a nautical tune, as other royals, including the Prince of Wales and the Queen, also enjoyed the music.

The Queen summed up the day: “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 there was a tremendous sense of common determination to celebrate, triumphing over the elements.”

The same spirit of celebration was found when the Olympic flame reached the UK, said the Queen, who recorded her address in Buckingham Palace’s White Drawing Room.

She added: “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.”

A number of Olympic Torch bearers were shown including paratrooper Ben Parkinson, the most seriously wounded soldier to survive the war in Afghanistan, who carried the flame through his home town of Doncaster, in June.

Lance Bombardier Parkinson lost both legs and suffered brain and back injuries in a bomb attack in 2006, and was cheered by thousands as he slowly made his way along the route.

Military Cross holder Corporal Ricky Furgusson was another injured serviceman who took part in the Olympic Torch Relay. Despite losing both legs, five fingers and his left eye in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2010, he was seen carrying the torch through Broseley in Shropshire in May.