Her Majesty said that she had been “stunned into silence” during a visit to the Tower of London’s ceramic poppy display, which included one flower for every British or Commonwealth soldier killed to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict.
As the poignant speech was broadcast to homes across the UK yesterday, the Duchess of Cambridge had to apologise for failing to bring Prince George to the Royal Family’s traditional Christmas Day church service.
“The ceramic poppies at the Tower of London drew millions, and the only possible reaction to walking among them was silence,” she said in her message, recorded at Buckingham Palace.
The monarch went on to speak about “building bridges using the Christmas Day truce - when some soldiers from both sides laid down their weapons and met to play football in no man’s land in 1914 - as inspiration.
Reconciliation was the overriding theme as The Queen highlighted its importance in the wake of the Scottish referendum and the most recent efforts to unite Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland.
She said: “Sometimes it seems that reconciliation stands little chance in the face of war and discord. But, as the Christmas truce a century ago reminds us, peace and goodwill have lasting power in the hearts of men and women.”
“The benefits of reconciliation were clear to see when I visited Belfast in June.
“My visit to the Crumlin Road Gaol will remain vividly in my mind. What was once a prison during the Troubles is now a place of hope and fresh purpose; a reminder of what is possible when people reach out to one another.”