Queen To Hail Olympics In 3D Xmas Message

Paul Harrison, Royal Correspondent

The Queen will highlight the excellence of Britain's Olympians and Paralympians when her Christmas message is broadcast tomorrow.

Recorded for the first time in 3D and produced by Sky News, the monarch's festive message comes at the end of an extraordinary year for Her Majesty.

"As London hosted a splendid summer of sport, all those who saw the achievement and courage at the Olympic and Paralympic Games were further inspired by the skill, dedication, training and teamwork of our athletes," she said.

In a year which saw Britain's biggest Olympics medal hauls, the Queen added: "In pursuing their own sporting goals, they gave the rest of us the opportunity to share something of the excitement and drama."

The Queen, who was unable to attend the Sunday church service in Sandringham on Sunday due to a cold, fully expects to attend the service on Christmas Day, says Buckingham Palace.

But she will do so without the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who will, according to St James's Palace, spend Christmas Day privately with the Middleton family.

It's understood the Queen has given her blessing to William and Kate's Christmas Day plans and it is expected the couple will join the Royal Family at Sandringham at some point next week.

Prince Harry will also not join his family at Sandringham as he remains on deployment in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter pilot.

Buckingham Palace says the Queen had been keen to embrace 3D in this year's Christmas message after such an extraordinary year.

The Queen has never been shy in adopting new technologies, sending her first email in the 1970s and using a mobile phone at the turn of the century.

"2012 has been a tremendous year for the Queen, truly an historic year, her diamond jubilee year," explained royal commentator Robert Jobson.

"But more important than that it was a chance for Her Majesty to get out and meet as many people as possible when she was trying to get that message of community across and she travelled the length and breadth of the UK to get that message across."

But as the Queen appears to begin to curtail her long-haul travel, getting her message around the Commonwealth becomes more difficult. That's where her Christmas broadcast comes into its own.

:: People can watch the Queen's broadcast on Sky News, Sky News Online, Sky News for iPad, Sky 1 and Sky 3D (for those who have it) at 3pm on Christmas Day.