The Christmas Day broadcast concluded with a theme that drew inspiration from the Bible's nativity story. Read more:

Children from St Joseph's Catholic Infants' School in Camberwell, south London, were seen performing scenes from a traditional nativity play complete with a tiny doll in a basket as baby Jesus.

The Queen said: 'Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.

'God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a saviour, with the power to forgive.

'Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.'

The broadcast ended as it had begun, with a performance by the Band of the Irish Guards.

The Christmas address had started with the musicians playing the National Anthem and ended with them performing the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

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