England, Dec 26 (AP/UNB) — Queen Elizabeth II wove personal reflections into the latest edition of her annual Christmas message, saying she hoped her long life brought a measure of wisdom and noting her grandchildren's contributions to Britain's royal family.
The 92-year-old queen, the world's longest-reigning living monarch, also included the customary tribute to military personnel and wishes for world peace in the message, which was pre-recorded at Buckingham Palace and televised Tuesday.
"Some cultures believe a long life brings wisdom," Elizabeth said in the recording. "I'd like to think so. Perhaps part of that wisdom is to recognize some of life's baffling paradoxes, such as the way human beings have a huge propensity for good and yet a capacity for evil."
On a lighter note, the queen listed the House of Windsor's 2018 milestones with the same unabashed pride of someone writing their yearly Christmas letter for friends and far-flung relatives.
"It's been a busy year for my family, with two weddings and two babies, and another child expected soon. It helps to keep a grandmother well occupied," Elizabeth said, not forgetting to mention her own firstborn,
"We have had other celebrations too, including the 70th birthday of The Prince of Wales," otherwise known as heir to the throne Prince Charles.
The annual message was broadcast to many of the 53 Commonwealth countries. Elizabeth recalled that her father, King George VI, welcomed eight former British colonies at the first meeting of Commonwealth leaders in 1948.
"Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding," she said.
The queen mentioned her father, from whom she inherited the throne when he died in 1952, again while expressing gratitude for soldiers and sailors past and present. During World War I, two decades before his own unexpected ascension to the throne, he served with the Royal Navy and saw friends killed in battle, Elizabeth said.
"At Christmas, we become keenly aware of loved ones who have died, whatever the circumstances. But, of course, we would not grieve if we did not love.
Earlier in the day, Elizabeth and her family received cheers from a Christmas crowd when they arrived for a church service in the English countryside. A chauffeured limousine delivered the queen, while her descendants and their spouses walked from a nearby estate of the monarch's.
Prince Charles led the way, followed by his sons: Prince William and his wife, Catherine, and Prince Harry and his pregnant wife, Meghan. Harry and the former American actress known as Meghan Markle married in May and are expecting their first child in the spring.
The couple walked arm in arm next to William and Catherine. Many in the crowd wished them "Merry Christmas" as they strolled to the church in the English countryside on a cold, wintry morning.
After the 45-minute service, people gave them flowers as they headed back for a traditional Christmas lunch.
The queen's husband, Prince Philip, who is 97 and largely retired from public life, did not attend the service. Charles' wife Camilla, who is recovering from flu, also missed church.
William and Catherine's three children — Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and 8-month-old Prince Louis, also stayed home.
Britain's royals usually exchange small gifts on Christmas Eve, a practice popularized by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The queen typically frowns on extravagant gifts, and many of the presents are novelty items.
When the queen was younger, Christmas meant a brisk family walk through the woods on Christmas or an excursion on horseback.
Elizabeth delivered her first Christmas Day message when she took the throne in 1952. The seasonal addresses aired on the radio until she made the transition to television in 1957.
They have been broadcast during every year of her reign save one. In 1969, the queen decided her family had received enough exposure from giving a TV crew unusual access for a documentary.
That year, she issued the message in writing.
London, Dec 18 (AP/UNB) — Thomas Markle appealed to his daughter Meghan to call home, saying Monday they hadn't spoken since her wedding to Prince Harry in May.
The former actress, now known as the Duchess of Sussex, has ignored his attempts to get in touch, Thomas Markle told ITV. Markle had been scheduled to walk his daughter down the aisle, but pulled out of the wedding at the last moment because of heart problems.
"I love my daughter very much and she has to know that, and I would really appreciate if she would call me, just reach out to me," Markle said in the interview from San Diego.
In Markle's first television interview since the duchess announced her pregnancy in October, the 74-year-old grandfather-to-be agreed he'd been "ghosted" by his daughter. He suggested the royal couple had been influenced by media reports about him.
"The funny thing about my daughter and Prince Harry is that they believe everything they read in the paper," he said. "What's happened, I'm not sure. I'd love to talk about it. I think it comes back to the fact that reporters pick up on interviews I've done and write their own stories and tell lies."
Markle hopes Queen Elizabeth II will help heal the rift.
He also rejected the notion his daughter had a habit of dumping those she no longer needed.
"That's really not a character trait," he said. "She's always been very polite to everyone, never been rude to anyone. I don't know what's really happening right now."
London, Nov 24 (AP/UNB) — Like many a couple before them, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are moving to the suburbs ahead of the anticipated birth of their first child.
Kensington Palace said Saturday that Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, will move from Kensington Palace in central London to Frogmore Cottage, a house on the grounds of Windsor Castle, early next year.
The couple is expecting their first child in the spring. They married in a chapel on the Windsor Castle grounds in May.
Windsor is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of central London.
Harry and Meghan have been living at Kensington Palace since announcing their engagement last year. They will keep their office at that London palace.
New Zealand, Oct 31 (AP/UNB) — Prince Harry and wife Meghan examined the navel, nostrils and whiskers on New Zealand's flightless kiwi bird and got to name two tiny chicks on the final day of their 16-day tour of the South Pacific.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited a kiwi hatchery in the town of Rotorua on Wednesday and learned about the breeding program for the threatened birds, which are considered national icons.
They gave the 3-day-old kiwi chicks indigenous Maori names: "Koha" meaning "gift" and "Tihei" meaning "sneeze," from the Maori saying "tihei mauri ora" meaning "the sneeze of life" or the right to speak. The names were gender neutral because their sexes haven't yet been identified.
The couple also visited a Maori meeting grounds or "marae," went for a public walkabout and strolled through a redwood forest as they finally enjoyed sunny weather after their stop in New Zealand had earlier been dampened with rain.
At the Te Papaiouru Marae, the couple attended a formal welcoming ceremony and luncheon and were each given striking Maori cloaks, or "korowai."
Harry and Meghan arrived in New Zealand on Sunday after earlier visiting Australia, Fiji and Tonga. During public walkabouts they have been greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic fans.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this week there seems to be little appetite for changing New Zealand from a constitutional monarchy that recognizes Britain's Queen Elizabeth II to a republic.
"I do not pick up from the New Zealand public that this is high on their agenda. That this is an issue that they see of such importance that we need to be debating it in the current environment for New Zealand," she said. "And I take my steer from them."
On the trip, Meghan has shown she is prepared to continue speaking out about feminist issues in her new role as a royal. In Wellington, she gave a speech congratulating the country on becoming the first in the world to allow women to vote some 125 years ago.