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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Queen thanks 'courageous' armed forces
Marines 45 Commando during exercise in Desert of Oman
Queen: Armed forces have 'critical' role in society
Britain's armed forces have received a personal tribute and message of thanks from the Queen as she celebrates her Golden Jubilee.

She referred particularly to the work of those servicemen and women involved in the global war against terrorism, including work in Afghanistan.

"I would like to thank all of you for your part in defending Britain and preserving peace around the world. I cannot think of a worthier task," she said.

Queen Elizabeth II visits All Saints Parish Church in Kingston Upon Thames, during her Golden Jubilee visit to West London,
Family and friends of servicemen and women thanked
She addressed the forces during a Golden Jubilee message broadcast worldwide on the British Forces Broadcasting Service.

It came on the eve of her Jubilee visit to all three armed services at Portsmouth.

"I am pleased to have the opportunity, on the occasion of this Golden Jubilee, to pay a special tribute to the men and women of the armed forces," she said.

"And to express my personal appreciation for the support which you have given me, and my family, over many years.

"I spoke earlier this year of the timeless values which characterise Britain: moderation, tolerance, and service to others.

"These characteristics, as well as others - courage, dignity and pride - are especially apparent, and highly regarded, in the armed forces."

'Abiding respect'

She said that conflict, threats to national and global security remain.

"Like all parts of our society, you have experienced much change over the last 50 years," she said.

"The threats we face have been transformed. But conflict, and the threat of conflict, are still with us.

"I would like to mention, at this time, the men and women of all three services engaged in the campaign against international terrorism, particularly those involved in operations in Afghanistan, or deployed at sea in the region."

The Queen thanked each area of the services, recognising their individual contributions.

My thoughts are with you all, wherever you may be

The Queen
She also thanked those servicemen and women undertaking military tasks at home, "be it in our airspace and seas, in Northern Ireland, or in the Falklands and other dependent territories".

"The regard in which the armed forces are held in the UK and around the world is probably as high as it has ever been over the last 50 years," she added.

"This is, in part, because of the critical role you play, day in and day out, in our society.

"Everyone whose home you have helped save from fire or flood, or who saw you at work during the ravages of foot and mouth disease, has reason to be thankful for your professionalism.

Diverse society

"It is also because the services themselves increasingly reflect the make-up of our diverse society."

The Queen also paid her respects for those servicemen and women who had died in conflict, or since serving the country.

"And you build on the work of those who have gone before," she said.

"In Britain we remember those no longer serving, including those who have died for their country; for we in this nation have a deep and abiding respect for our past.

"My thoughts are with you all, wherever you may be.

"And my prayers are with your friends and families, without whose love and support you would not be able to do your duty.

"May God be with you all."

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