The Queen has paid tribute to the "courage and loyalty" of the armed forces and spoken of the "great personal risk" that soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have faced during the past year.
In her Christmas message to the armed forces, the Queen spoke of the "difficult and dangerous circumstances" in which the military is operating and expressed admiration for the sacrifices they were making.
"Members of my own family have had the opportunity this year to visit you. They have been hugely impressed by the spirit in which you go about your business in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances," she said. "Your courage and loyalty are not lightly taken. It is a pledge which calls for sacrifice and devotion to duty. And I know that yours is a job which often calls for great personal risk."
She said that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were making "an enormous contribution in helping to rebuild those countries". The Queen added that her thoughts were with the families and friends of service personnel who had lost their lives in action.