Queen focuses on sport in Christmas speech

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Queen focuses on sport in Christmas speech

Queen Elizabeth II will use her Christmas Day message this year to emphasise the importance of sport as a way of building communities and creating harmony, 19 months ahead of the London Olympics.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 24 Dec 2010, 6:56 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:58 AM

The royal family are all keen sportsmen and women — the queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips is an eventing world champion — and the monarch will emphasise how sport can encourage the development of vital 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,” the queen will say during her televised address Saturday.

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

The queen’s speech is broadcast at 3:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Saturday in Britain and will also be shown in Commonwealth countries. In addition, it will be available on the royal family’s YouTube channel.

The 84-year-old, who has reigned since 1952, normally records the message at Buckingham Palace but this year chose to do it at Hampton Court Palace outside London.

The speech is one of the rare occasions when the queen is able to voice her own views — she writes it herself and often draws on her own experiences, while at the same time reflecting current issues.

Her choice of subject has been seen by some commentators as critical of the government’s decision to slash millions of pounds (dollars) in school sports funding earlier this year as part of widespread cuts to reduce a massive budget deficit.

After protests fronted by Olympic medal winners, ministers were forced to review their decision and this week announced they would make up some of the shortfall.

2011 will be a big year for the royal family with the marriage of the second-in-line to the throne, Prince William, to his university sweetheart Kate Middleton on April 29.

And it could be a double wedding celebration following Phillips’s engagement to England international rugby player Mike Tindall, although the couple are yet to set a date for their ceremony.

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