Queen singles out military for praise

The Queen recognised the service of Commonwealth soldiers in Afghanistan in her Christmas message yesterday.

More than 13,000 soldiers from New Zealand, Britain, Canada, Australia and Singapore were serving in Afghanistan and people could be proud of the positive contribution they were making, the Queen said from Buckingham Palace.

"The debt of gratitude owed to these young men and women and to their predecessors is indeed profound."

Thoughts went out to the people who had lost friends and family over there, she said.

More than 100 British soldiers have died there this year.

The continuing economic downturn had also made 2009 a difficult year for many people, she said.

She also talked of the importance of the Commonwealth, formed 60 years ago.

"Today with more than a billion of its members under the age of 25, the organisation remains a strong and practical force for good."

The Queen said some work being done by young people who were creative and innovative was inspiring.

She urged the Commonwealth to keep discussing issues of concern.

"There can be no more valuable role for our family of nations."

- NZPA

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