In times of hardship we often “find strength from our families” and in a crisis communities “break down barriers and bind together” to help each other, she said.
The Queen added that “sadly” it sometimes took a tragedy to bring out valued qualities from an individual.
But her grandson’s wedding to Kate Middleton reinforced to the Queen the importance of relatives in happy times.
In her annual address to the nation, she paid tribute to the Cambridges’ marriage, and that of Zara Phillips and rugby star Mike Tindall.
She said: “The importance of family has, of course, come home to Prince Philip and me personally this year with the marriages of two of our grandchildren, each in their own way a celebration of the God-given love that binds a family together.”
As she spoke, footage was shown of the two weddings, first Zara and Tindall moments after they emerged from Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh where they exchanged vows in July.
Speaking from Buckingham Palace’s 1844 room in a message recorded two weeks ago, the Queen also acknowledged the festive period would be a tough time for some.
She said: “For many this Christmas will not be easy. With our armed forces deployed around the world, thousands of service families face Christmas without their loved ones at home.”
The broadcast ended as it had begun, with music by the Band of the Irish Guards.