Queen uses Christmas message to praise UK's 'remarkable individuals'
The Queen has paid tribute to those who inspire the nation by saving lives, winning sporting medals or impressing through quiet dedication, in her annual Christmas message.
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 these remarkable individuals.
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".
She described how Mother Teresa, declared a saint this year by Pope Francis, summed up the contributions of these unsung heroes with the words: "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
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.
At this point during the message footage was shown of the Buckingham Palace reception held in honour of ParalympicsGB and Team GB medal winners, with the Duke of Cambridge pictured greeting Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds.
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.
In her message she said: "A few months ago, I saw inspiration of a different kind when I opened the new Cambridge base of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, where Prince William works as a helicopter pilot.
"It was not hard to be moved by the dedication of the highly-skilled doctors, paramedics and crew, who are called out on average five times a day."
As she spoke, footage was shown of her visit, with the Duke of Edinburgh, to the new base, with William showing his grandparents the rear of a helicopter where equipment was stored.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme and The Prince's Trust celebrated significant milestones this year, with Philip's organisation now 60 years old and the Trust, founded by his son the Prince of Wales, marking its 40th birthday in 2016.
Dressed in a deep jade, silk cloque dress, by Angela Kelly, and wearing a pearl and diamond brooch, the Queen said: "These started as small initiatives but have grown beyond any expectations, and continue to transform young people's lives."
The Christmas address, written by the Queen, ended on a religious note, as she said: "The message of Christmas reminds us that inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received, and that love begins small but always grows."
At the end of the broadcast a montage of video footage showing highlights from the Queen's year was screened, with the Queen seen at the State Opening of Parliament, the annual Maundy service, and with her family on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the Trooping the Colour ceremony.
The Queen was featured meeting well-wishers on her 90th birthday - April 21 - outside Windsor Castle and chatting to Nadiya Hussain, last year's winner of the BBC's The Great British Bake Off, who had made a three-tiered orange drizzle cake.
The message ended as it had begun, with music from the Massed Bands of the Foot Guards.
They started the broadcast by playing the national anthem outside the gates of Buckingham Palace and ended it with the Wassail from A Christmas Intrada, by Alfred Reed.
Belfast Telegraph Digital