Queen hails King James but not Prince William

THE Queen yesterday paid tribute to the unique contribution to Christianity of one of her ancestors, but made no mention of the religious ceremony involving her grandson and Kate Middleton next year.

Prince William's Royal Wedding was a notable omission from the Queen's Christmas message, which looked forward to the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible which falls in 2011.

There was also no reference made to the wedding of another of her grandchildren - that of Zara Phillips to the England rugby player Mike Tindall.

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However, the bible commissioned by King James VI of Scotland and I of England was the centrepiece of her message recorded at the Chapel Royal in Hampton Court.

Making the broadcast from the palace built for Henry VIII was a break from tradition. The Queen's annual address is normally recorded from Buckingham Palace. The change was suggested by the Queen, because Hampton Court was where, in 1604, King James commissioned the bible, which took seven years for translators to complete.

The Queen said the King James Bible was "acknowledged as a masterpiece of English prose and the most vivid translation of the scriptures".

She added: "The glorious language of this Bible has survived the turbulence of history and given many of us the most widely recognised and beautiful descriptions of the birth of Jesus Christ which we celebrate today."

The Queen also paid tribute to the role that sport can play in building team spirit.

She she had seen "how important sport is in bringing people together from all backgrounds, from all walks of life and from all age-groups".

In her TV address, the Queen added: "Apart from developing physical fitness, sport and games can also teach vital social skills. None can be enjoyed without abiding by the rules, and no team can hope to succeed without co-operation between the players. This sort of positive team spirit can benefit communities, companies and enterprises of all kinds."

It was accompanied by broadcast footage featuring the Royal Family attending events like the Commonwealth Games and Wimbledon, and a visit to the London 2012 Olympic site.

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Returning to her original theme, the Queen concluded her address by saying: "King James may not have anticipated quite how important sport and games were to become in promoting harmony and common interests. But from the scriptures in the Bible which bears his name, we know that nothing is more satisfying than the feeling of belonging to a group who are dedicated to helping each other."