Queen’s Christmas message honors cities hit by terror

FAN Editor

Last Updated Dec 25, 2017 8:33 AM EST

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II and senior members of the royal family — along with newcomer Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s fiancee — arrived at a Christmas church service on Monday as a crowd of local residents gathered. 

Markle smiled and gave a brief wave on her way into the church in her first public appearance with the queen. Many well-wishers carried flowers to give to the royals after the service. 

The queen was joined by her husband, Prince Philip, and close family members including grandson Prince William and his wife, Kate, who is expected to give birth to the couple’s third child in the spring. 

This is the first Christmas Markle, an American actress, has spent the holiday with the royal family. She and Prince Harry plan to marry at Windsor Castle in May.

Members Of The Royal Family Attend St Mary Magdalene Church In Sandringham

(L-R) Prince William, Duke of Cambridge; Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on December 25, 2017 in King’s Lynn, England.

Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Elizabeth planned to use her annual Christmas message to pay tribute to the way the cities of London and Manchester pulled together after extremist attacks earlier this year.

Remarks pre-recorded by the 91-year-old monarch were to be televised on Christmas Day in the United Kingdom and the 51 other Commonwealth countries.

Excerpts released by Buckingham Palace indicate Elizabeth praises the “powerful identities” of Manchester, hit by a suicide bomber in May, and London, which endured attacks on Parliament, London Bridge and other landmarks.

The queen says it was her privilege to visit young survivors of the attack on a Manchester concert hall as they were recovering from the blast which claimed 22 lives.

“I describe that hospital visit as a ‘privilege’ because the patients I met were an example to us all, showing extraordinary bravery and resilience,” she says.

Elizabeth also pays tribute to her husband, 96-year-old Prince Philip, who this year stepped down from most public duties because of his advancing years.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth is seen sitting at a desk in the 1844 Room after recording her Christmas Day broadcast to the Commonwealth, in Buckingham Palace, in this undated photograph received in London

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is seen after recording her Christmas Day broadcast to the Commonwealth, in Buckingham Palace, in undated photograph received in London on December 24, 2017


The queen also talks about the importance of home, saying in a portion cited by the Reuters news agency, “We think of our homes as place of warmth, familiarity and love.  … There is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home.”

The queen, Philip and family members were attending a church service Monday on the grounds of Elizabeth’s country estate in Sandringham, 110 miles north of London.

The royal family has a private lunch scheduled afterward.

Elizabeth says in her brief broadcast that the royal family looks forward “to welcoming new members into it next year” — an apparent reference to Markle and the baby expected in the spring by Prince William and Kate.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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