Queen hails importance of family
The Queen has celebrated the importance of the family in her Christmas Day message, describing the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as her own personal reminder of the value of loved ones.
In times of hardship we often "find strength from our families" and in a crisis communities "break down barriers and bind together" to help each other, she said.
She added that "sadly" it sometimes took a tragedy to bring out valued qualities from within an individual.
But William and Kate's wedding - a joyous occasion for the monarchy and celebrated by up to a million people on the streets of London - reinforced to the Queen the importance of relatives in happy times.
In her annual address to the nation, she paid a poignant tribute to the Cambridges' marriage, and that of Zara Phillips and rugby star Mike Tindall.
She said: "The importance of family has, of course, come home to Prince Philip and me personally this year with the marriages of two of our grandchildren, each in their own way a celebration of the God-given love that binds a family together."
As she spoke, footage was shown of the two weddings, first Zara and Tindall moments after they emerged from Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh where they exchanged vows in July. William and Kate were pictured kissing on the Buckingham Palace balcony following their Westminster Abbey wedding in April, then images were shown of the newly-weds surrounded by their relatives.
Speaking from Buckingham Palace's 1844 room, the Queen also acknowledged that the festive period would be a tough time for some.
"For many this Christmas will not be easy. With our Armed Forces deployed around the world, thousands of service families face Christmas without their loved ones at home," she said. "The bereaved and the lonely will find it especially hard. And, as we all know, the world is going through difficult times."
The Queen is without her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, by her side at Sandringham this Christmas as he is recuperating in hospital following treatment for a blocked coronary artery.