The full text of the Queen's Christmas message to UK armed forces:
I am delighted to have this opportunity to wish you all a very happy
Christmas, wherever you are serving.
I know it has been an extremely busy year on operations, overseas and here
In Iraq and Afghanistan you continue to make an enormous contribution in
helping to rebuild those countries, and in other operational theatres you
undertake essential duties with a professionalism which is so highly regarded
the world over.
Members of my own family have had the opportunity this year to visit you on
operations and see at first hand the scope of your work.
They have been hugely impressed by the spirit in which you go about your
business in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances.
Your courage and loyalty are not lightly taken.
It is a pledge which calls for sacrifice and devotion to duty.
Throughout my life my relationship with the armed forces has been marked by my admiration and deep respect for everything you strive to achieve
And I know that yours is a job which often calls for great personal risk.
This year men and women from across the armed forces have lost their lives
in action in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
My thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends especially at
this Christmas season.
For those servicemen and women who have been injured in the course of their
service, I wish each and every one of you a speedy recovery.
For those of your families spending this Christmas without you, I want to
express my appreciation for the understanding they show and the sacrifices they
make on our behalf.
Our country asks a lot of you and your families.
'Highest of distinctions'
I have much appreciated the opportunities I have had to meet so many of you during my various visits over the past 12 months and I always draw strength from your dedication, resolve and good humour.
On a personal note, I would like to thank you for helping me celebrate my 80th birthday.
Throughout my life my relationship with the armed forces has been marked by
my admiration and deep respect for everything you strive to achieve on behalf of
all of us.
My father King George VI said that 'the highest of distinctions is service
There is no higher goal. Your service to our country is - I believe - an
outstanding example of that ideal. I am grateful to you all.
I wish you, and your families, a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.