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Queen's Christmas broadcast features Hindus, Muslims

Last updated on: December 26, 2006 09:38 IST

In a break with tradition, Queen Elizabeth II's Christmas broadcast has featured footage of Europe's largest Hindu Temple and Muslims praying in a mosque.

In a broadcast that reflected the changing face of modern Britain, there were scenes of the opening of the Lord Venkateswara temple in Tividale in the West Midlands and also from a St James' Palace reception where the Queen met leaders of the country's Jewish community.

In the message, the Queen stressed it was easy to focus on the differences between religions rather than what they had in common. But, people of different faiths were bound together by the need to help the young become considerate citizens and all religious communities encouraged the bridging of the generation gap, she said.

"The pressures of modern life sometimes seem to be weakening the links which have traditionally kept us together as families and communities," she said.

At the end of a year of turmoil in which community relations in Britain have been strained by security fears and rows over women using the veil, the monarch issued a plea for multi-faith tolerance.

It was the first time in history that the seasonal message had featured film of prayers inside a mosque.

In the message broadcast to one billion people in Britain and the Commonwealth, she urged people to bridge the generation gap between the young and old. 

Dressed in a spring green outfit and a brooch her parents gave her when Prince Charles was born in 1948, the Queen said, "As children grow up and develop their own sense of confidence and independence in the ever-changing technological environment, there is always the danger of a real divide opening up between young and old, based on unfamiliarity, ignorance or misunderstanding.

"It is worth bearing in mind that all of our faith communities encourage the bridging of that divide. The wisdom and experience of the great religions point to the need to nurture and guide the young, and to encourage respect for the elderly."

The Queen, who was prompted to speak about the relationship between young and old after reaching her landmark 80th birthday this year, reflected her own deep Christian faith in the broadcast - "Christ himself told his disciples to let the children come to him, and Saint Paul reminded parents to be gentle with their children, and children to appreciate their parents."

"The scriptures and traditions of the other faiths enshrine the same fundamental guidance. It is very easy to concentrate on the differences between the religious faiths and to forget what they have in common - people of different faiths are bound together by the need to help the younger generation to become considerate and active citizens," she emphasised.

In 2006, the Queen saw both grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry graduate from Sandhurst as Army officers, while her granddaughter Zara Phillips triumphed in the World Equestrian Games and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

H S Rao in London
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