She also spoke for the first time about the birth of her great grandson, Prince George.
Delivering her festive message, recorded this month at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth reflected on the 60 years since her coronation, which was marked last summer with a service at Westminster Abbey.
While focusing on reflection, the Queen said it was also important to look to the future.
She said: “Reflection is not just about looking back. I and many others are looking forward to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year. The baton relay left London in October and is now on the other side of the world, on its way across 70 nations and territories before arriving in Scotland next summer. Its journey is a reminder that the Commonwealth can offer us a fresh view of life.”
She added: “Here at home, my own family is a little larger this Christmas. As so many of you will know, the arrival of a baby gives everyone the chance to contemplate the future with renewed happiness and hope. For the new parents, life will never be quite the same again.”
The words were accompanied by footage of William bouncing George up and down in his arms, with the Duchess of Cambridge by his side, as they chatted to other family members outside the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, before George’s christening.
The Queen said in her broadcast: “As with all who are christened, George was baptised into a joyful faith of Christian duty and service. After the christening, we gathered for the traditional photograph. It was a happy occasion, bringing together four generations.”
Those not with their families this Christmas were also in the Queen’s thoughts, from servicemen and women on operations abroad to emergency service workers. Speaking about members of the armed forces serving overseas, the Queen said: “We are forever grateful to all those who put themselves at risk to keep us safe.” Footage was shown of troops in Afghanistan.
She said: “I myself had cause to reflect this year, at Westminster Abbey, on my own pledge of service made in that great church on Coronation Day 60 years earlier. The anniversary reminded me of the remarkable changes that have occurred since the coronation, many of them for the better; and of the things that have remained constant, such as the importance of family, friendship and good neighbourliness.”
Today, the Royal Family, gathered at Sandringham in Norfolk, attended their traditional Christmas Day church service. William and Kate looked relaxed as they walked to St Mary Magdalene Church, holding hands. But there was no sign of Prince George as temperatures stayed just above freezing. One member of the crowd shouted: “Where’s the baby?”
Kate smiled and waved to the crowds. She was seen curtseying to the Queen as the family attended a private service earlier in the morning. Prince Harry was still sporting a beard from his exertions in the Arctic with the charity Walking With the Wounded. He said he intended to keep it as a “royal tradition”.
About 3,000 well-wishers gathered outside the church. Before the service a pilot entertained them by drawing a smiley face, heart and kiss in vapour trails in the sky.
After the service, William told the crowd: “We’ve had a good morning with George and I can’t wait until next year when he’s bigger.”
Cicely Howard, 75, of Great Yarmouth, asked Kate about George. She said: “She told me he was having a lovely day but was more interested in the wrapping paper than the presents.”