Queen Elizabeth II sent a special Christmas message to British troops overseas yesterday, praising their courage.
"Our country asks a lot of you and your families," she said in a prerecorded Christmas Eve radio broadcast to Britain's military.
In only her second Christmas broadcast to military personnel in recent years, the queen says her thoughts and prayers are with the families of military personnel who were killed.
The UK has around 7,000 soldiers stationed in southern Iraq, mainly based around the city of Basra.
There are around 6,000 troops based in Afghanistan, the majority in the volatile southern province of Helmand where more than 30 soldiers have been killed since June in an escalation of violence.
"In Iraq and Afghanistan you continue to make an enormous contribution in helping to rebuild those countries and in other operational theaters you undertake essential duties with a professionalism which is so highly regarded the world over," the monarch said.
"Your courage and loyalty are not lightly taken. It is a pledge which calls for sacrifice and devotion to duty. And I know that yours is a job which often calls for great personal risk," she said.
"This year men and women from across the armed forces have lost their lives in action in both Iraq and Afghanistan. My thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends, especially at this Christmas season," the monarch said.
The Queen, whose husband and children have all got ties with the military, has seen her grandsons Princes William and Harry graduate in recent years as junior officers in the army.
"Throughout my life my relationship with the Armed Forces has been marked by my admiration and deep respect for everything you strive to achieve on behalf of all of us," the queen said.
"My father King George VI said that `the highest of distinctions is service to others.' There is no higher goal. Your service to our country is, I believe, an outstanding example of that ideal. I am grateful to you all," she said.
"I wish you, and your families, a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year," she added.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete