LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II has hailed the holidays in a new dimension, delivering her Christmas message for the first time in 3D.
In the annual, prerecorded broadcast, the monarch paid tribute to the armed forces, “whose sense of duty takes them away from family and friends” over the holidays, and expressed gratitude for the outpouring of enthusiasm for her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The queen said she was struck by the “strength of fellowship and friendship” shown by well-wishers to mark her 60 years on the throne.
“It was humbling that so many chose to mark the anniversary of a duty which passed to me 60 years ago,” she said as footage showed crowds lining the Thames River in the rain earlier this year for a boat pageant. “People of all ages took the trouble to take part in various ways and in many nations.”
The queen also reflected on Britain’s hosting of the Olympic games in 2012, praising the “skill, dedication, training and teamwork of our athletes” and singling out the volunteers who devoted themselves “to keeping others safe, supported and comforted.”
Elizabeth’s message aired shortly after she attended a traditional church service at St. Mary Magdelene Church on her sprawling Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
Wearing a turquoise coat and matching hat, the monarch rode to church in a Bentley, accompanied by granddaughters Beatrice and Eugenie. Her husband, Prince Philip, walked from the house to the church with other members of the royal family.
Three familiar faces were missing from the family outing. Prince William is spending the holiday with his pregnant wife Kate and his in-laws in the southern England village of Bucklebury. Prince Harry is serving with British troops in Afghanistan.
After the church service, the royals usually gather to watch the queen’s prerecorded television broadcast, a tradition that began with a radio address by King George V in 1932.
The queen has made a prerecorded Christmas broadcast on radio since 1952 and on TV since 1957. She writes the speeches herself and the broadcasts mark the rare occasion on which the queen voices her own opinion without government consultation.
Pop star gives back to her native Barbados
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Singer Rihanna has given $1.75 million to a hospital in her Caribbean homeland of Barbados in memory of her late grandmother.
Rihanna says the donation to buy three pieces of medical equipment was her way “giving back to Barbados.”
She made the comments during a Saturday ceremony with relatives at the island’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The hospital’s radiotherapy unit has been renamed the Clara Braithwaite Center for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine after Rihanna’s grandmother, who died in June.
Rihanna recently released “Unapologetic,” her seventh album in seven years.
Affleck won’t be tossing his hat in the ring
BOSTON – Ben Affleck is taking his name off the list of possible candidates for U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s seat, which would be open if the Democratic senator from Massachusetts is confirmed as secretary of state.
Affleck says in a Monday posting on his Facebook page that while he loves the political process, he will not be running for public office.
Speculation about the Cambridge, Mass., native rose slightly when he did not completely rule out a Senate bid during an appearance on CBS’ Face The Nation on Sunday.
In his Facebook posting, Affleck says he would continue working with the Eastern Congo Initiative, a nonprofit organization that helps direct humanitarian aid to the war-torn region, and for other causes.
Affleck says Kerry would make a great secretary of state.