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Light will overcome darkness of terror attacks, insists Queen

By Tony Jones

Published 26/12/2015

At the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham is The Queen
At the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham is The Queen
At the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
At the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham is Sophie, Countess of Wessex
At the Christmas Day church service at Sandringham is the Princess Royal

The Queen has used her Christmas Day address to highlight the Christian message of light triumphing over the dark following a year which has seen "moments of darkness".

During the broadcast, the monarch also acknowledged the birth of her fifth great grandchild Princess Charlotte, born in May, and made a light-hearted reference to her approaching 90th birthday on April 21.

At the end of a year which saw the head of state become the nation's longest reigning monarch, surpassing Queen Victoria's record, the Queen acknowledged the influence of her great-great grandparents Victoria and Prince Albert on the nation's Christmas traditions.

A series of terrorist atrocities have shocked the world during 2015, from the mass shootings and bombings in Paris last month to the gun attack at a Tunisian resort during the summer.

The Queen, whose address traditionally has a strong religious framework reflecting her own faith, sounded an optimistic tone when she quoted a verse from the Bible.

Reflecting on the past 12 months, the monarch said: "It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it'."

The monarch went on to mention the latest addition to her family: "One of the joys of living a long life is watching one's children, then grandchildren, then great grandchildren, help decorate the Christmas tree. And this year my family has a new member to join in the fun."

Prince George and Princess Charlotte stayed indoors as the Royal Family attended their traditional Christmas Day service.

Led by the Queen, the rest of the family made their way from Sandringham House to St Mary Magdalene Church for the service which is held every year on the Sandringham estate.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge smiled warmly as they arrived without their children. Wearing a green coat and matching hat, Kate seemed relaxed as she made conversation with Prince Harry. They were joined by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Andrew, The Earl and Countess of Wessex and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

Pope Francis used his Christmas message to call for peace in a world torn apart by "brutal acts of terrorism" while thanking the generosity of countries for showing mercy and offering shelter to desperate refugees.

He asked that Israelis and Palestinians resume direct dialogue which would "enable two people to live together in harmony and end a conflict which has caused great conflict for the entire region", before praying for an end to the civil war in Syria and "in remedying the extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people".

In his Christmas address the Archbishop of Canterbury warned that an "apocalypse" forged by the Islamic State has left Christianity facing "elimination" in the very region where the faith was born two millennia ago.

In the service at Canterbury Cathedral he said that IS is "igniting a trail of fear, violence, hatred and determined oppression".

He told the congregation: "They hate difference, whether it is Muslims who think differently, Yazidis or Christians, and because of them the Christians face elimination in the very region in which Christian faith began.

"This apocalypse is defined by themselves and heralded only by the angel of death."

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