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Queen Elizabeth II delivers Christmas message

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is pictured after recording her Christmas Day broadcast in the State Dining Room at Buckingham Palace in central London, on December 10, 2014. She spent Christmas Day at her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England.

JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images

Last Updated Dec 25, 2014 12:16 PM EST

SANDRINGHAM, England- Queen Elizabeth II used her traditional Christmas broadcast to call for international reconciliation and to praise medical workers fighting Ebola in Africa.

The queen said she has been "deeply touched" by the "selflessness" of doctors and nurses combating the Ebola outbreak.

She also recalled the legendary 1914 Christmas Truce during World War I and urged that its lessons inspire reconciliation throughout the world.

"No one who fought in that war is still alive, but we remember their sacrifice and indeed the sacrifice of all those in the armed forces who serve and protect us today," she said.

"In 1914 many people though the war would be over by Christmas, but sadly by then the trenches were dug and the future shape of the war in Europe was set. But as we know, something remarkable did happen that Christmas, exactly one hundred years ago today. Without any instruction or command, the shooting stopped and German and British soldiers met in No Man's Land."

It should remind us, she said, "that even in the unlikeliest of places hope can still be found."

Each year the queen writes her own Christmas speech, which is pre-recorded and televised in many parts of the world on the afternoon of Christmas Day. She made her first Christmas broadcast on radio in 1952.

The queen is celebrating the holiday with her husband Prince Philip and other members of the royal family at the sprawling Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England.

The royals attended a church service Christmas morning before enjoying a gala lunch. Prince William and his pregnant wife Kate were present, but their toddler son, Prince George, did not go to church.

Prince Charles' wife Camilla also did not attend because of a painful back injury suffered earlier this month, officials said.

The queen arrived by car while the other royals walked from her estate to the village church.

Hundreds of well-wishers lined the route to the church to exchange Christmas greetings with the royals. Some shouted with glee as Prince Harry walked by. One visitor from Spain told reporters she had asked Harry to marry her.

William and Kate talked to the crowds briefly after the service when the queen had left by car.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby cancelled his Christmas sermon because of a severe cold. In a statement he expressed "great regret" about his inability to preach his planned sermon about the true meaning of Christmas.

Church officials said the sermon at Canterbury Cathedral would instead be delivered by the Dean of Canterbury Robert Willis.