British troops 'chuffed' to receive Queen's Christmas message of support

24th December 2006

The Queen at Sandhurst this year

British troops in Iraq were "really chuffed" to receive the Queen's supportive Christmas message today and said it was nice to be remembered.

The sovereign, who is the head of the British Armed Forces, praised the courage and enormous contribution made by those stationed there and in Afghanistan.

In her heartfelt pre-recorded Christmas Eve radio broadcast directed at those serving at home and abroad, she said: "Our country asks a lot of you and your families."

The Queen paid tribute to the "enormous contribution" they made "at great personal risk". Today, Army spokesman Captain Tane Dunlop in Basra said the troops on the ground were delighted to receive the message.

"I think everyone is really chuffed. Obviously the Queen is constitutionally head of state and head of the Armed Forces, and British forces have the highest respect for the Queen.

"It is really nice that she is thinking of us during the festive season, particularly those out of us on operation."

Capt Dunlop said the Queen had always been closely linked to the Armed Forces and now had two grandsons - princes William and Harry - serving in the Army.

"We do feel there is a connection and we welcome her message."

The officer said that while the top priority was the work they were doing in Iraq, there had been a few attempts to acknowledge Christmas.

Tinsel has been put up in some areas of the camps around Basra while the Armed Forces' padres have organised carol services and midnight mass.

One unit in central Basra has organised a Boxing Day (26th December) rat hunt - a poor relation of the traditional English Boxing Day Hunt. "It is Christmas and obviously we are still here," he said. "We have got a few things going on but that is going to come second to what we are doing out here.

"There is no day off. We are still on patrol, supporting patrols, working on logistics and so on."

In her broadcast, the Queen said her thoughts and prayers were with the families of the servicemen and women killed in recent months.

The Armed Forces suffered heavy casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006 - including Flight Lieutenant Sarah-Jayne Mulvihill. She was the first British servicewoman to die in action in Iraq when she and four colleagues were killed in a helicopter crash in Basra last May.

It is the second time in recent years that the Queen has recorded a separate message for troops in addition to her annual December 25 broadcast. She said: "In Iraq and Afghanistan you continue to make an enormous contribution in helping to rebuild those countries and in other operational theatres you undertake essential duties with a professionalism which is so highly regarded the world over.

"Members of my own family have had the opportunity this year to visit you on operations and see at first hand the scope of your work.

"They have been hugely impressed by the spirit in which you go about your business in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Your courage and loyalty are not lightly taken. It is a pledge which calls for sacrifice and devotion to duty.

"And I know that yours is a job which often calls for great personal risk.

"This year men and women from across the Armed Forces have lost their lives in action in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"My thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends, especially at this Christmas season."

The Duke of Edinburgh travelled to Basra this year, while the Princess Royal visited troops in Afghanistan.

In her message, the Queen wished injured servicemen and women a speedy recovery and turned to the families left behind - something she has experienced herself.

" For those of your families spending this Christmas without you, I want to express my appreciation for the understanding they show and the sacrifices they make on our behalf," she said.

The monarch was a teenager when the Second World War began and the Duke of Edinburgh spent long periods at sea during that time. Their son the Duke of York risked his life during the Falklands War as a Sea King helicopter pilot.

She went on: "Throughout my life my relationship with the Armed Forces has been marked by my admiration and deep respect for everything you strive to achieve on behalf of all of us.

"My father King George VI said that 'the highest of distinctions is service to others'. There is no higher goal. Your service to our country is - I believe - an outstanding example of that ideal. I am grateful to you all.

"I wish you, and your families, a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year."
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100% correct- the service of our troops to our country is indeed outstanding. What a pity that our so- called leaders, Mr Blair and Mr Brown, are not fit to lace their boots.

- Doug, Glasgow

Our troops are loyal and courageous men and women, who love their country, and their Queen, and are doing something valuable for the sake of both. They deserve all the support we can give them, and the Queen has spoken for many people. I hope they have as merry a Christmas as possible, and I hope their families do too.

- Patricia Maughan, Tyne and Wear, England
I'm sure they'd be more 'chuffed' to come home.

- Dats, UK

A message from the REAL head of state (not Tony Blair, who only thinks he is) would obviously mean more to the lads out there. Thank you for sending it Your Majesty!

- Ray, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, England

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Last edited by Blackleaf; Dec 24th, 2006 at 12:58 PM..