Queen's Christmas message promotes sports

Queen Elizabeth is using her annual Christmas message to extol the role of sports in building communities and developing social skills.
Queen Elizabeth records her Christmas Day broadcast at Hampton Court Palace on Dec. 15. ((John Stillwell/Reuters))

Queen Elizabeth is using her annual Christmas message to extol the role of sports.

Buckingham Palace has released a sneak peek of this year's address.

The Queen says getting involved with sports can help people build communities and develop social skills.

"In the parks of towns and cities, and on village greens up and down the country, countless thousands of people every week give up their time to participate in sport and exercise of all sorts, or simply encourage others to do so," she says in the message recorded Dec. 15 in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace, west of London.

"These kinds of activity are common throughout the world and play a part in providing a different perspective on life."

The Christmas video illustrates her praise of sports with images of her grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry playing soccer with African orphans in Lesotho.

1st time at Hampton Court Palace

The Queen writes her annual address without consulting the British government. Her focus on sports comes after a backlash from athletes and educators led the government to back away from plans to cut funding for a school sports program.

The address marked the first time the Queen had recorded it from Hampton Court Palace, which has royal ties dating back 500 years to Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

The broadcast is normally done at Buckingham Palace, but Windsor Castle, Sandringham House and other locations have been used.

The Queen's complete message will be broadcast Christmas Day in Commonwealth countries and the Royal Family's YouTube channel.

The Queen and her family are due to gather at Sandringham, which is about 180 kilometres north of London, to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. The Royal Family's Christmas Day will include a church service, a gala meal and the broadcast of the Queen's message.

Prince William and his fiancée, Kate Middleton, will be absent, however, as William is on duty with the Royal Air Force in Wales.

with files from The Associated Press