The Queen has used her Christmas message to praise the "powerful identities" of London and Manchester that have "shone through" in the face of terrorist attacks this year.

During her televised address tonight, the Queen paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip, who has retired from solo public duties, praising his "support and unique sense of humour".

The Queen's message to the Commonwealth looked back over the previous 12 months and took "home" as its theme.

In her pre-recorded address, filmed at Buckingham Palace, the Queen said: "This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past twelve months in the face of appalling attacks."

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The nation endured a series of devastating terrorist atrocities during the year, beginning with the Westminster Bridge attack in March that saw four pedestrians die when an attacker, later shot dead by police, drove at them before fatally stabbing a police officer.

In Manchester a few months later 22 people - including children - were killed when a lone suicide attacker detonated an explosive device as crowds of music fans left Manchester Arena following a performance by US singer Ariana Grande.

There were more deaths in June when three terrorists in a van ploughed into pedestrians on London Bridge then went on a knife rampage in Borough Market, killing eight in total. They were shot dead by police.

The address traditionally has a strong religious framework reflecting the Queen's faith, and is written by the monarch who draws on current issues and her own experiences over the past year.

Headline making events during 2017 include June's General Election, the devastating Grenfell Tower fire, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's engagement and the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

Philip, famed for his quips, inquisitive mind and "no-fuss" attitude, stood down from his solo public role in August, although he has made the occasional appearance at events involving the Queen.

Speaking about the Christmas message's theme the Queen said: "We think of our homes as places of warmth, familiarity and love... there is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home."

This year's annual address was recorded in the palace's 1844 room which is decorated with a large tree and features family photos.

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Pictures of the Queen's great grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, can be seen, along with two wedding related images of the Queen and Philip - but taken 70 years apart.

The royal couple are featured in a black and white image from their 1947 wedding, and in a colour photo released to mark their 70th wedding anniversary celebrated in November.

In the broadcast the Queen wore an ivory white dress by Angela Kelly, an outfit she first wore with a matching coat and hat for the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant in 2012. She also wore a star-shaped diamond brooch.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Norfolk last week to kick off their traditional Christmas break, which they will spend on the Royal estate at Sandringham.

This year, Harry's fiancée Meghan Markle will join her husband-to-be Sandringham on December 25th - an unprecedented step for someone who is yet to become an official member of the royal family.

The Duchess of Cambridge did not spend Christmas at Sandringham until she and William were man and wife in 2011.

Meghan, who will take British citizenship and get baptised by the Church of England before the wedding, will also attend the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, a spokesperson has confirmed.

She and Harry, 33, who are now living together in a two-bed cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace, will also take part in the traditional walk to mass by the entire royal family.