Queen to hail terror-hit UK cities in Christmas Day message

London, Dec 25 (PTI) Britain's Queen Elizabeth II will reflect on the "appalling" terror attacks in London and Manchester this year in her traditional Christmas Day message televised to the Commonwealth today.The 91-year-old monarch, whose pre-recorded message will air at 0830 IST, will pay tribute to the "powerful identities" of the two cities which suffered the loss of 35 lives in attacks claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group.

"This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past 12 months in the face of appalling attacks," she will say in her message recorded in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace in London.

Five people, four pedestrians and a police officer, were killed in the Westminster Bridge attack near Parliament in London in March.

In May, the Queen visited victims of the bombing at Manchester Arena, in which 22 people died.

A suicide bomber struck as they left the venue following a performance by American singer Ariana Grande.

The following month, eight people died when three men in a van ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge before going on a knife attack in nearby Borough Market.

Later that month, a man died when a hired van ran into worshippers near the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park, north London.

In this year's message, the Queen also pays tribute to her 96-year-old husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who retired from royal duties earlier this year.

She is set to deliver a poignant thanks to him, hailing his valuable support throughout her record-breaking reign and his "unique sense of humour".

"We think of our homes as places of warmth, familiarity and love. There is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home," the Queen will say, dressed in an ivory white dress by Angela Kelly, which she first wore for the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant in 2012.

Her words about family will be illustrated by photographs on her desk: her 1947 black and white wedding picture, the official photograph to commemorate the 70th wedding anniversary this November and portraits of her great grandchildren Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

The Queen and Prince Philip were seen together in public heading to church on her Sandringham estate today along with senior members of the Royal Family, including their children and grandchildren.

She returned for the traditional service after having missed it last year due to a lingering cold.

Prince William and his pregnant wife Kate Middleton walked side by side with Prince Harry, who was joined for the first time with his fiancee, American actress Meghan Markle.

The 36-year-old, who is to wed her 33-year-old Prince in May next year, was dressed in a brown beret and coat as she greeted the crowds.

Royal convention has been eased to allow an unmarried partner to join in the royal family's traditional Christmas festivities.

A crowd of around 200 were waiting for the royal family's arrival from early morning.

The family members then returned home for a traditional turkey lunch, before watching the Queen's speech together.

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