Page last updated at 03:11 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

Queen expresses Commonwealth internet concerns

Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station on the Thames riverbank
The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth nations

The Queen has warned that businesses in developing nations are missing out on opportunities because the internet is an "unaffordable option" in many areas.

In her annual Commonwealth Day message, the monarch praised advances in science and technology for improving lives.

But she said "fledgling markets" in Commonwealth nations were hampered by a lack of modern telecommunications.

The Queen's speech will be part of the annual Observance of Commonwealth Day service, held at Westminster Abbey.

In the pre-recorded speech, she said: "Experimentation, research and innovation mean that more opportunities for improving people's lives exist today than ever before.

"Take long-distance communication, where the obstacles of time and geography have been dramatically reduced. People can now use mobile phones to be in instant contact virtually anywhere in the world."

She said this could be with a medical centre in the Himalayan mountains in Asia, a Pacific island school, a research facility at the South Pole, or even the international space station, "beyond this planet altogether".

"Advances in modern telecommunications are also having a marked economic effect on people from developing nations in the Commonwealth, helping to transform small to medium-sized businesses."

But the Queen stressed: "The internet is playing an important part in helping to nurture these fledgling markets but, as yet, it still remains an unaffordable option for too many of our Commonwealth citizens."

The address echoed the theme of this year's Commonwealth Day - science, technology, and society.

Also attending the service will be the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

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