Queen to focus on economy in speech

The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace by carriage for the State Opening of Parliament, in central London, December 3, 2008. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

LONDON (Reuters) - The Queen will use her annual Christmas Day message to talk about the concern people are feeling over the economic downturn.

With unemployment rising and figures showing Britain heading into a recession, the Queen will say this year’s celebrations will be overshadowed for some by fears about the future.

She will also highlight worries caused by conflict in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Christmas is a time for celebration but this year it is a more sombre occasion for many,” she will say, according to extracts of the speech released by Buckingham Palace.

“Some of those things which could once have been taken for granted suddenly seem less certain and naturally give rise to feelings of insecurity.”

The Queen will add: “People are touched by events which have their roots far across the world, whether it is the global economy or violence in a distant land the effects can be keenly felt at home.”

This year’s speech will be delivered by the Queen standing in front of a grand piano from Buckingham Palace’s music room.

The annual message, broadcast on television, radio and YouTube at 3 p.m., is written by the 82-year-old monarch herself. The theme is usually religious and also reflects her own interests.

The first Christmas Broadcast was delivered by George V in 1932 and has since become a traditional part of the Christmas Day festivities for many people in Britain and around the world.

Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Kate Kelland