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'Feelings of insecurity' cast shadow over holidays: Queen

The economic crisis has cast a shadow over the holiday season, the Queen says in her Christmas broadcast from London, England, that called on people to show courage through gloomy times.

Annual message urges courage during global recession

The economic crisis has cast a shadow over the holiday season, the Queen says in her Christmas broadcast from London, calling on people to show courage through gloomy times.

"Christmas is a time for celebration, but this year it is a more sombre occasion for many," the 82-year-old monarch said Thursday in her annual Dec. 25 address, a prerecorded message from Buckingham Palace's music room.

The tone of the speech was in sharp contrast to her address last year, when the Queen spoke about the value of family and the importance of helping the disadvantaged.

Britain has taken a significant hit in the global economic downturn. Retail icons, such as Woolworths, have collapsed, and unemployment is nearing two million people as the British pound drops to record lows against the U.S. dollar.

"Some of those things which could once have been taken for granted suddenly seem less certain and, naturally, give rise to feelings of insecurity," the Queen said. "People are touched by events which have their roots far across the world. Whether it is the global economy or violence in a distant land, the effects can be keenly felt at home."

The annual broadcast is one of the few times the Queen publicly voices her opinion without government consultation. Her first televised broadcast of the speech, which the Queen writes herself, was in 1957, and has since been watched by millions across Britain and the Commonwealth each year.

The message was broadcast on television, radio and YouTube.

Shows family pride

The Queen wore a beige dress and a three-stringed pearl necklace for the address. She has previously stated that the jewelry, given to her by her grandfather, George V, is her favourite piece. She also wore a heart-shaped brooch she inherited from Queen Mary.

Speaking in the room where her son, Prince Charles, was baptized, the Queen also told of her pride in her family, particularly her grandsons, William and Harry.

"We feel great pride in seeing our family make their own unique contributions to society," she said.

This year, Harry, third in line to the throne, served in Afghanistan for 10 weeks. She also mentioned Charles's charity work in support of young people.

During the speech, she stood in front of a grand piano covered with photographs of Charles, William, Harry and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Footage shown during the Christmas broadcast included 1949 black-and-white clips of a young dark-haired Elizabeth playing with Prince Charles when he was a year old. The Prince of Wales celebrated his 60th birthday this year. Footage also showed Charles presenting William with his Royal Air Force wings at a ceremony in April.

Share prosperity

It is important for people to continue to do charity work and aid the disadvantaged during the recession, the Queen said.

"There are those who use their prosperity or good fortune for the benefit of others whether they number among the great philanthropists or are people who, with whatever they have, simply have a desire to help those less fortunate than themselves," she said.

She also praised British troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future."

On Christmas Day, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family attended church services at the Queen's Sandringham House estate in Norfolk.

With files from the Associated Press

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