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Queen Elizabeth II hails British heroes of COVID-19 in Christmas message

Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Queen Elizabeth II tried to strike a hopeful tone on Friday with her Christmas message, while acknowledging the sadness of many Britons this year who have to spend the holidays separated from loved ones.

In her annual Christmas Day broadcast, the queen said COVID-19 has isolated families and sympathized with the many who are depressed and desperate for a hug and human contact.

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She also praised those who have reached out to help others during the ongoing health crisis, saying many have risen "magnificently" to the unprecedented challenges of 2020.

"For many, this time of year will be tinged with sadness," the queen added. "Some mourning the loss of those dear to them and others missing friends and family members distanced for safety, when all they really want for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand.

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"If you are among them, you are not alone and let me assure you of my thoughts and prayers."

The queen said acts of kindness, volunteering and caring for others in Britain have been an inspiration to the royal family.

"In [Britain] and around the world, people have risen magnificently to the challenges of the year, and I am so proud and moved by this quiet indomitable spirit," she said. "To our young people in particular, I say thank you for the part you have played."

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The queen hailed British nurses and health workers, saying the nation owes them a debt of gratitude for standing up on the front lines during the pandemic.

"Let the light of Christmas -- the spirit of selflessness, love and, above all, hope -- guide us in the times ahead."

Several members of the royal family have tested positive for the coronavirus disease this year, including Prince Charles and Prince William.

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