Queen Talks of Peace and Peacemakers, Not Family Feuding
LONDON (AP) _ Queen Elizabeth II saluted peace and peacemakers in world trouble spots during her annual Christmas message Monday but made no mention of her efforts to bring peace to her own family.
The queen spent the holiday at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, where the message was taped Thursday beside a Christmas tree in the Long Library. All the royals are there, with one notable exception: Princess Diana.
Diana initially accepted an invitation to Sandringham, then decided not to spend the day with her estranged husband, Prince Charles, and their two children. How she was spending Christmas was not known.
In a show of unity, the queen led 18 other family members to a Christmas church service, watched by a cheering crowd of more than 500. Charles walked with his eldest son, Prince William, 13, who was the first to spot a smiling face traced in the sky by an airplane.
The queen, titular head of the 53-nation Commonwealth of Britain and its former colonies, told her subjects in the nine-minute broadcast, ``The work for peace is never-ending.″
She praised the ``relative peace″ that has prevailed for the past 50 years in much of the world. She also welcomed the first fruits of peace in Northern Ireland and the end of fighting in the former Yugoslavia.
As she spoke of the thousands of Commonwealth servicepeople far from home this Christmas helping to keep the peace in Bosnia, the television played film of NATO helicopters and jeeps maneuvering in the snow.
``Christ said: `Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.′ Thanks to the peacemakers, many millions will enjoy a better Christmas this year,″ the queen said.
``It is when the fighting ceases that the work of reconciliation and reconstruction can begin,″ she said.
She also praised volunteers in such places as Bosnia and Rwanda, Chechnya and Cambodia, saying they risk danger to help the suffering and hungry.
As she approaches her 70th birthday and 44th year on the throne, the queen for the first time has publicly stepped in to bring peace to her family. The Sunday Times called the public feuding between Charles and Diana ``one of the biggest public relations battles this century.″
Aiming to save the monarchy and spare her grandchildren, the queen last week urged them to divorce, a move applauded by many of her subjects.
In his Christmas sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said the prince and princess of Wales and their children ``have been at the forefront of our prayers as we have sensed afresh some of the pain they carry.″
Carey is spiritual leader of the Church of England, of which the queen is the temporal head.