2016 The Queen


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2016

HM Queen Elizabeth II delivers her annual address in the Christmas message to the nation and the Commonwealth.


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BAND PLAYS: God Save The Queen

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There was a time when British Olympic medal winners

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became household names

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because there were so few of them.

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But the 67 medals at this year's Games in Rio

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and 147 at the Paralympics

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meant that the GB medallists' reception at Buckingham Palace

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was a crowded and happy event.

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Throughout the Commonwealth, there were equally joyful celebrations.

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Grenada, the Bahamas, Jamaica and New Zealand

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won more medals per head of population

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than any other countries.

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Many of this year's winners spoke of being inspired by

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athletes of previous generations.

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Inspiration fed their aspiration,

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and having discovered abilities they scarcely knew they had,

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these athletes are now inspiring others.

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A few months ago, I saw inspiration of a different kind

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when I opened the new Cambridge base

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of the East Anglian Air Ambulance,

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where Prince William works as a helicopter pilot.

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It was not hard to be moved by the dedication

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of the highly skilled doctors, paramedics and crew,

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who are called out on average five times a day.

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But to be inspirational, you don't have to save lives or win medals.

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I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people

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doing extraordinary things -

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volunteers, carers,

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community organisers

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and good neighbours -

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unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special.

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They are an inspiration to those who know them,

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and their lives frequently embody a truth expressed by Mother Teresa,

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from this year Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

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She once said, "Not all of us can do great things.

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"But we can do small things with great love."

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This has been the experience of two remarkable organisations,

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The Duke of Edinburgh's Award

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and the Prince's Trust,

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which are 60 and 40 years old this year.

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These started as small initiatives

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but have grown beyond any expectations,

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and continue to transform young people's lives.

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To mark my 90th birthday,

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volunteers and supporters of the 600 charities

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of which I have been patron came to a lunch in The Mall.

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Many of these organisations are modest in size

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but inspire me with the work they do.

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From giving friendship and support to our veterans,

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the elderly or the bereaved,

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to championing music and dance,

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providing animal welfare,

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or protecting our fields and forests,

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their selfless devotion and generosity of spirit

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is an example to us all.

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When people face a challenge

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they sometimes talk about taking a deep breath

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to find courage or strength.

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In fact, the word "inspire" literally means "to breathe in".

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But even with the inspiration of others,

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it's understandable that we sometimes think

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the world's problems are so big that we can do little to help.

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On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice...

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..but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness

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can be bigger than we imagine.

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At Christmas, our attention is drawn to the birth of a baby

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some 2,000 years ago.

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It was the humblest of beginnings, and his parents, Joseph and Mary,

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did not think they were important.

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Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life

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and never travelled far.

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He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong.

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And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching

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and find in him the guiding light for their lives.

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I am one of them because Christ's example helps me

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see the value of doing small things with great love,

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whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.

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The message of Christmas reminds us

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that inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received,

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and that love begins small but always grows.

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I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

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BAND PLAYS: A Christmas Intrada by Alfred Reed

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