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Queen Elizabeth II hails Olympic athletes, Jubilee well-wishers in first 3D Christmas message

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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 television 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.

Her switch to 3D was not the only technological leap for prominent British figures this Christmas.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York chose to tweet their sermons for the first time, in order to bring Christmas to a new digital audience.

In his speech, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said he has been inspired by meeting victims of suffering over the past decade while leading the world's 80 million-strong Anglican Communion.

Delivering his final Christmas Day sermon from Canterbury Cathedral, Williams also acknowledged how a vote against allowing women to become bishops has damaged the credibility of the church.

Still, he said, it was "startling" to see after the vote how many people "turned out to have a sort of investment in the church, a desire to see the church looking credible and a real sense of loss when — as they saw it — the church failed to sort its business out."

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