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Queen misses Christmas service but praises volunteers and carers

The Queen paid tribute to those who inspire the nation in her annual message as she missed the Christmas church service at Sandringham for the first time due to a heavy cold.

Looking back on a year that has seen momentous change with the Brexit vote and national celebrations for her 90th birthday, the Queen highlighted the efforts of people saving lives, winning sporting medals or impressing through quiet dedication.

Resting at her private home after becoming ill some days ago, the Queen was still up and about enjoying the festivities d espite missing the Christmas Day ceremony at St Mary Magdalene Church which other members of the royal family attended.

The heavy cold had delayed the monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh's journey from Buckingham Palace to Norfolk a few days ago.

Ahead of the service , a Buckingham Palace spokesman said the Queen would not be attending, adding: "The Queen continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery. Her Majesty will participate in the Royal Family Christmas celebrations during the day.'

Meanwhile, in her televised message the Queen said "on our own" we could not solve global problems but the collective effect of many could have a positive impact.

She said: "But even with the inspiration of others, it's understandable that we sometimes think the world's problems are so big that we can do little to help.

"On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine."

In her message to the nation the Queen singled out for special praise ordinary people like volunteers and carers doing "extraordinary things".

There was no mention in the Christmas message of Brexit, which saw David Cameron resign as prime minister in the wake of the UK voting to leave the European Union.

The Sun newspaper attempted to involve the Queen in the issue when it published a front page suggesting she was in favour of the UK leaving the EU.

Its headline Queen Backs Brexit, published in March, was later ruled to be "significantly misleading'' by the Independent Press Standards Organisation after Buckingham Palace complained to the watchdog, insisting the Queen was "politically neutral".

But the Queen highlighted one of the major sporting events of the year, the Rio Games, and spoke about the impact the UK's medal-winning Olympians and Paralympians, and Commonwealth athletes, were having on the next generation of sportsmen and women.

The Queen made reference to her 90th birthday celebrations only to praise the hundreds of charities and organisations which have her as their patron. Many of them had taken part in a special street party in The Mall - the Patron's Lunch - to mark the anniversary.

The head of state, who recorded her Christmas message in Buckingham Palace's regency room earlier this month, said: "Many of these organisations are modest in size but inspire me with the work they do.

"From giving friendship and support to our veterans, the elderly or the bereaved; to championing music and dance; providing animal welfare; or protecting our fields and forests, their selfless devotion and generosity of spirit is an example to us all."

Footage was shown of the revellers enjoying the Patron's Lunch, parades entertaining the crowds and the Queen watching events from the royal box.

The Queen also highlighted the work of organisations associated with members of her family, like the medical staff and crew members from East Anglian Air Ambulance with whom her grandson William flies helicopters.

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